Women Now’s CEO Dr. Maria Al Abdeh and Dr. Champa Patel analyze the various gendered consequences of the pandemic on women and girls in Syria as well as their intersection with pre-existing gender injustices in this article “COVID-19 and Women in Syria – Deepening Inequalities” for Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. To that end, Women Now interviewed 69 women in May 2020, most of whom are from Idlib and the Aleppo countryside due to accessibility issues. We have also interviewed several of our staff members and colleagues.
This article also looks at how the crisis is exacerbating pre-existing inequalities. The impact of COVID-19 on women in Syria cannot be disconnected from their exposure to the violence and trauma of war and displacement. Not only has the global pandemic increased the need for healthcare directly related to COVID-19, but it has also exacerbated other health hazards specific to women and girls. These include inadequate sexual and reproductive healthcare, strained mental health, and increased gender-based violence.
While the conflict in Syria may have already altered women’s roles in both family and society, the pandemic is reinforcing an unjust gender divide. In addition to increased care work placed on women’s shoulders, the limited livelihood and financial security, educational and economic opportunities as well as the possibilities for political participation they previously had are now in jeopardy. This reality reinforces our belief that women’s voices are critical in responding to any crisis, whether it be political, economic, or health-related.