U.N. Releases Report on Socio-economic Effects of Coronavirus

A United Nations report states that the fact that women make up 70 percent of the global health workforce puts them at greater risk of infection.
This is a dated photo of Catherine a nurse at Jinja referral hospital,in Uganda. Credit: Lyndal Rowlands/IPS.

By Samira Sadeque
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 3 2020 – As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow, concerns are simultaneously growing about the current and long-term effects this will have on certain demographics — specifically, women, the youth, migrant workers, and many employees around the world. 

This week, the United Nations launched a report “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19” that detailed how these communities are affected disproportionately by the current pandemic and quarantine. 

A burden on women

At the centre of it remains one demographic that likely bear the strongest brunt of it: women. 

“The fact that women make up 70 percent of the global health workforce puts them at greater risk of infection,” read part of the report. “The current crisis threatens to push back the limited gains made on gender equality and exacerbate the feminisation of poverty, vulnerability to violence, and women’s equal participation in the labour force.”

But just because women make up almost three-quarters of global healthcare professionals, does not mean they’re given the proper respect. According to a March 2019 report by the World Health Organisation, despite having such a crucial role in the public health industry, women continue to face various kinds of abuse or negligence in society, including but not limited to being attributed to a “lower status” or engaging in paid and often, unpaid roles, and being subject to gender bias and harassment. 

Meanwhile, given such a large percentage of the workers are women, the requirement of child-care can hinder a woman’s ability to work during the pandemic. According to the Centre for American Progress, currently millions of healthcare workers have a child under the age of 14, who might be struggling to manage between going to work and taking care of their children. 

“Because mothers’ employment is especially likely to suffer when they cannot find reliable child care, this finding suggests that millions of vital health workers currently could be struggling to secure child care, endangering their ability to work at a moment when the U.S. health care infrastructure is already spread too thin,” the report reads. 

At the launch of the report, U.N. secretary general António Guterres called for policies to not only address the pandemic and contain its spread, but also that would adopt measures to address the long-lasting impact of the crisis. He called for “designing fiscal and monetary policies able to support the direct provision of resources to support workers and households, the provision of health and unemployment insurance, scaled up social protection, and support to businesses to prevent bankruptcies and massive job losses.”

Plight of migrant workers, lack of connectivity further problems

Another demographic that is deeply affected as a result of the pandemic are migrant workers, according to the report.

“Migrants account for almost 30 percent of workers in some of the most affected sectors in OECD countries,” read the report. “Massive job losses among migrant workers will have knock on effects on economies heavily dependent on remittances, such as El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Tonga, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.” 

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Nepal cites the government’s figure that estimates between 700 000 to 800 000 Nepali migrants workers in India. 

“With the outbreak of COVID-19 and measures by the GOV to mitigate the risks, country is in a national lock – down. Economic production has stopped and many seasonal Nepali migrant workers had to stop working,” Lorena Lando, Chief of Mission at IOM Nepal, told IPS.

“Thousands returned back to Nepal before the lock down, others are still in India but unable to work. Many of the migrant workers are daily wages earners, and now they no longer have an income to support their families. Even for those that return back home, job opportunities will be scarce, keeping in mind that was the first reason why they travelled abroad for work.”

“The economic impact of COVID-19 in countries such as Nepal will be much bigger than other countries, and while some actions to take are good for the short term, other will need be a socio economic recovery response in longer vision,” she added. 

Beyond migrant workers, International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that the current crisis in the labor market could see between five and 25 million job losses. 

“The current crisis exacerbates the feminisation of poverty, vulnerability to violence, and women’s equal participation in the labour force,” the report noted, highlighting that even amid joblessness, women will be affected disproportionately. 

Furthermore, connectivity to the internet, especially at a time when all work and courses are moving online, is also of priority. The report states that currently an estimated 3.6 billion of the world’s population remain without connectivity, which means they may not have access to education, health information and telemedicine. 

As advocates had told IPS last week, digital access and internet connectivity is key at this time in order to ensure communication among communities.

The Fierce Urgency of Now – ECW Allocates $15M in Emergency Funds

Apr 3 2020 (IPS-Partners)

The Education Cannot Wait Global Fund (ECW) allocates a total of US$15 million in an initial series of emergency grants for the rapid delivery of holistic education services to protect and support vulnerable children and youth hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 16 countries/emergency contexts. These girls and boys are already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises. An additional series of grants to support the response in other crisis-affected countries will be released shortly and reach partners in-country in the coming days.

“1.5 billion children are out of school. The majority of the 31 million children uprooted from their homes today – including over 17 million internally displaced, 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers – are at great risk,” said Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-level Steering Group and UN Special Envoy for Global Education. “Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of ‘the fierce urgency of now,’ and the crisis for these vulnerable children is right now and that is why ECW is making its full emergency reserves available immediately.”

This emergency allocation supports the United Nations coordinated $2 billion global humanitarian appeal launched on 25 March to fight COVID-19 in many of the world’s most vulnerable countries – already wracked by crises and now doubly-impacted by COVID-19.

As the pandemic continues to spread, upending entire countries and education systems worldwide, some 75 million children and youth – whose education was already disrupted due armed conflict, forced displacement, climate change-induced disasters and other crises – now find themselves in double jeopardy. Without the protection of a safe, equitable, inclusive quality education, they face increased risk of suffering the brunt of the pandemic, at higher risk of neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence, and of being even further left behind. Education is indeed be lifesaving for these vulnerable children and youth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis upon an already existing global education crisis affecting 75 million children and youth, of whom 39 million are girls, in war-torn countries and forced displacement. They are at extreme risk in the face of this unprecedented pandemic. We need to double our efforts and act with decisive speed. In the face of such immense exposure, immediate action is not only essential – it is existential. They are the ones furthest left behind and the ones we need to reach first,” said Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif. “We are releasing our entire emergency reserve in two batches to support governments, UN agencies and civil society to reach them. ECW’s emergency funding will be with them in just a few days.”

The series of ECW’s First Emergency Response grants is allocated to 30 UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations who are coordinating their efforts together with host-governments in-country through inter-agency humanitarian structures, such as the Education Cluster or the Education in Emergencies Working Group.

The duration of grants varies from 6 to 12 months. Activities ensure quality learning for the most vulnerable, in a safe, equitable, inclusive environment and through innovative and cost-effective responses in affected countries. Interventions are focusing on the following areas:

Emergency Education Measures: With the total disruption of the usual education systems in emergency-affected areas, grants are to support alternative delivery models, including informal education materials at the household level, as well as scaling up distance education programmes, particularly via interactive radio. Social emotional learning and psychosocial support are prominent components of the academic curriculum to be provided in these alternative delivery models.

Messaging and Support Around Risks: ECW grants are to support information campaigns and the scaling up of risk communications and community engagement with target populations. Messaging, tailored to local languages and contexts, are to give practical advice about how to stay safe, including through handwashing and social distancing. Refugees, displaced and marginalized people may also experience xenophobia and stigma, requiring mental health and psychosocial support. Parents and teachers are to receive COVID19-specific guidance to promote the resilience and the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth at home.

Upgrading Water and Sanitation Facilities in Schools: This is to benefit both students and the wider community as handwashing is a first line of defense against COVID-19. Even when schools and learning facilities are officially closed, in many cases there is still access to these facilities, and they can serve as crucial hubs to increase access to handwashing and distribute hygiene materials and kits.

ECW’s First Emergency Funding (FER) window is specifically designed to support rapid, agile coordinated education responses in times of new sudden onset or escalating crises. It is uniquely designed to ensure education can play its crucial lifesaving and life-sustaining role for affected children and youth in emergency settings.

Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, ECW issued a simplified application process to fast-track applications from partners for this emergency, ensuring funds can urgently be disbursed to roll out activities on the ground.

ECW’s allocation of much needed emergency funding to address critical education needs as a result of COVID-19 leaves a $50 million funding shortfall that will affect the Fund’s ability to respond to other needs or emergencies in the immediate future. ECW calls on the private sector, foundations, governments and other donors to urgently make new donations to ECW to support these efforts.

With these new emergency funding grants, ECW has now allocated over $100 million through its First Emergency Response window since the Fund started its operations in 2017 – supporting rapid education responses in more than 30 crisis-affected countries.

To contribute to ECW’s emergency reserve, please contact Nasser Faqih (nfaqih@unicef.org) or Madge Thomas (mathomas@unicef.org).

Additional information on emergency grants per country/crisis:
Afghanistan: Total of $1.25 million allocated. Grantees: UNICEF ($1.25 million)
Bagnladesh: Total of $1.5 million allocated. Grantees: BRAC ($900,000), Save the Children ($600,000)
Brazil: Total of $250,000 million allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($250,000)
Burkina Faso: Total of $1.5 million allocated. Grantees: EDUCO ($300,000), Plan International ($500,000), Save the Children ($250,000), UNICEF ($300,000), UNHCR ($150,000)
Colombia: Total of $1 million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($1 million)
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Total of $1.5 million allocated. Grantees: AVSI ($340,000), Save the Children ($140,000), UNESCO ($520,000), War Child Canada ($500,000)
Ethiopia: Total of $1million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($500,000), UNICEF ($500,000)
Palestine: Total of $850,000 allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($400,000), UNICEF ($450,000)
Somalia – Federal Government of Somalia and Member States: Total of $800,000 allocated. Grantee: ADRA ($800,000)
Somalia – Puntland: Total of $650,000 allocated. Grantee: Save the Children ($650,000)
Somalia – Somaliland: Total of $700,000 allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($700,000)
Syria: Total of $500,000 allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($500,000)
Uganda: Total of $1 million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($525,000), UNHCR ($475,000)
Venezuela: Total of $1 million allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($1 million)
Zimbabwe: Total of $500,000 allocated. Grantees: Plan International ($75,000), Save the Children ($175,000), UNICEF ($175,000), World Vision ($75,000)
Regional Response for Palestine Refugees:Total of $1 million allocated. Grantee: UNRWA ($1 million)


Notes to Editors:
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Information on the ECW Fund and its investment modalities are available at: www.educationcannotwait.org

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children & youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait @YasmineSherif1 @KentPage
Additional information available at: www.educationcannotwait.org

For press inquiries:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw.org, +1-917-640-6820
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735

For other inquiries: info@un-ecw.org

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