A New Scourge to Afghan Women: COVID-19

Oxfam Briefing Note

Oxfam in Asia - Afghanistan - A New Scourge to Afghan Women: COVID-19
Paper author: 
Oxfam in Afghanistan
Paper publication date: 
Friday, April 24, 2020

Women and girls worldwide are disproportionately affected by war, conflict, social issues and health crises compared to men. This is especially true for Afghan women who are more burdened by decades of conflict, food insecurity, and economic inequality. Patriarchal norms limit their movement, access to basic rights such as education and health, control over resources, decisions affecting their lives and the right to live free from violence. COVID-19 is proving to be no different and is exacerbating the inequalities Afghan women face.

Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that actors responding to the COVID 19 outbreak adapt their responses and policies to the various implications this outbreak has specifically for women. To support the above, and to ensure that the voices of Afghan women are heard by decision-makers, Oxfam in Afghanistan carried out a set of structured qualitative interviews amongst female beneficiaries, women’s rights activists, civil society actors and government representatives. Based on the responses, the following key concerns were identified:

  1. COVID-19 eroding hard won rights of women
  2. Social norms inhibiting women’s medical care at a time of increased need
  3. Increase in domestic violence
  4. Deepened economic inequality