Our latest report, Living Under Lockdown: Girls and COVID-19 is a review of evidence into how emergencies and humanitarian crises affect girls differently and includes interviews with girls specifically impacted by COVID-19.
The report draws on evidence from previous crises – including the Ebola epidemic, hunger and conflict in South Sudan and the Lake Chad Basin, the Rohingya refugee crisis and the refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. Researchers found girls living in a COVID-19 world are more at risk of being pulled out of school permanently, permanent unemployment, abuse and violence, food shortages and extreme poverty, increased pregnancy and child marriage and a greater chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, due to traditional care-giving gender roles.
To mark the release of the Living Under Lockdown: Girls and COVID-19, we asked girls around the world – from England to Ecuador – how they’re coping with COVID-19. Here’s what they said:
“I feel upset and I miss my subjects, my classmates and my teacher. At home I help my mother clear up, I help with chores and I read books. I want to study after school to become a fashion designer in Paris. But I’m afraid that the health workers might not find a cure for coronavirus and the world might continue to be on lockdown. During this time, I urge other girls to keep reading and practising lessons that they fail to understand so that when the crisis ends they are able to do more.”
“The day when lockdown was announced, I was on the first day of my period. I went to the nearby shop to buy sanitary napkins while there were people rushing to buy food items and stocks because they were worried about shortages. I was worried that there would be shortages of sanitary napkins as well. The government should not forget that while there is a lockdown in the country, our periods are not going to lockdown at all. Government should ensure the accessibility of sanitary napkins for all the girls in the country.”
“As a result of the coronavirus outbreak I can no longer go to school or do my hobbies. I miss going to school because I am scared that I will not learn enough like this. I’m feeling quite good but I am worried about the old people, my grandparents for example. I am also worried about what will happen next. I’m scared that countries can no longer afford to prevent climate change. There will be a better tomorrow, but now we just have to be patient and wait.”
“I’m a nursing student in my final year and we’ve moved to online classes. I feel very stressed and anxious about education, as I’m not sure if I’m going to be graduating this year. During these times I tend to withdraw and go into solitude. To try to cope I do self-care such as wearing a mask or having a day to myself to relax. My message to other girls is to have hope and remember you are strong, powerful and resilient.”
“My family and I were merchants who lived off our day to day work, and with this quarantine it is now impossible to do the work that would cover all our needs. In this context I am always worried about how long our provisions will last us and what will happen when they finish. I miss my classmates so much, being able to laugh and meet peacefully. The message that I want to leave is to be very careful, to follow all the instructions of governments so that when all this is over we can meet again, and have all faith and hope that all this will end and that we will emerge victorious from this crisis.”
“Right now I feel like I am living through someone else’s lens, like I’m watching a movie but from someone else’s perspective. Because we’re in such an unprecedented time and it’s all so uncertain right now, I feel like I’m distancing myself from reality. My mother and I are both key workers so we go to work, do exercise together and try and distract ourselves. I never really felt safe exercising outside my house, but due to the pandemic I recognise more the looks I get from men if I wear shorts or if I’m boiling and take off my top and have just my sports bra underneath. I’m so on edge already so I recognise things more.”
“COVID-19 is directly affecting our lives and mental health because we are concerned about the virus. In my family, women normally do all the cooking which means that we have to go to the market where it is crowded putting us at risk of getting the virus. After coming home from the market, we clean ourselves before cooking so we do not infect our family members. Currently my school has been turned into a quarantine centre for migrant workers who came here from abroad. I am a bit worried about the hygiene at the school after the quarantine ends – whether anybody will deal with that or just leave it as it is.”
“My life has changed in positive and negative ways. I’m always out of my home and I miss it! In my community authorities are disinfecting people who come in or out. But I am able to help with the house chores and support my brothers and sisters to study so they learn to read and write. I worry how this pandemic is affecting so many people and families, parents who do not have a job and don’t receive a deserved salary. To be honest my family is one of them – my father, nor me and nobody in my family have a stable job. We support each other by dividing up the household chores and going out to sell our products. That’s how we survive.”