This is a two-year study to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected women in rural and peri-urban communities in Kenya and Uganda. According to a recent survey conducted by the Population Council, 85% of respondents in these areas reported earning less than they did before the pandemic, with a quarter reporting a complete loss of income and 57% reporting a partial loss. Women were more likely to report a complete loss of income, while men were more likely to report partial loss. Overall, any loss of income was higher among women.
The survey also found that women took on more unpaid labor after the pandemic began, with 55% of women reporting doing more cooking compared to 24% of men, 50% reporting fetching more water compared to 17% of men, 69% reporting doing more cleaning compared to 19% of men, and 64% reporting doing more childcare compared to 53% of men. Additionally, 89% of participants reported increasing costs of food, 72% reported increasing costs of cooking fuel, and 79% reported overall increased expenses for the household.
Given these findings, evidence-informed policies to address the health and economic issues faced by women in these communities will have a tremendous impact on these families and their communities in the immediate and medium term.
This research project aims to create a platform where women can work together to achieve access to basic human rights, such as food, water, education, and healthcare, in order to address the socioeconomic and health inequalities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The study draws on feminist political ecologies of health to explore power imbalances in access to resources required for everyday life. The project recognizes that some populations, such as women and older persons, are more vulnerable than others and seeks to address these inequities.
The team will use integrated knowledge mobilization techniques that prioritize the voices and ideas of those most affected. The research methodology will include:
Data collection processes that privilege women's voices
Sharing research results with participants to ensure meaningful findings, and
Deliberative dialogues with policymakers and stakeholders to create a link between knowledge and action.
The aim is to explore both sides of the coin of privilege and to disrupt existing inequities to achieve transformative change.
Stephanie Nixon, a scholar in public health, has argued that recognizing privilege is essential for creating transformative change that promotes equity. The team hopes to make a difference in this regard by using an approach that prioritizes the voices of marginalized groups and seeks to create meaningful change that will benefit those most affected.