Women, girls bear greater burden of COVID-19 pandemic – don

School girls in hijab [Picture used for illustrative purpose]

A Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Olabisi Aina has said that women and girl children bear the heavier weight of negative social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic than any other group.

Speaking on the topic, “The Social Impact of Covid-19: the Human Pains”, at the Lagos State University Second Virtual Public Lecture held on Tuesday, 5th May, 2020, she argued that the social strain of the pandemic are felt more by women and children as evident increase in domestic violence, greater lack to access of contraceptives, and resultant increase in unwanted pregnancies, occasioned by the COVID-19- induced prolonged lockdown across the globe.

“While COVID-19 affects all segments of the society, the social effects of the pandemic is disproportionate across genders. The burden cost of the pandemic leaves more strain on women and children. From global indices, there has been 20% surge in domestic violence. It has also been projected that because of the lockdown, tens of millions of women may be unable to access contraceptives and other means of birth control with the implication being that there is going to be a rise in unplanned pregnancies. There will be unexpected pregnancies and this will lead to population increase.”

Aina also made a case for the vulnerable in the society as the effect of COVID-19 takes it toll.

“For the first time in Nigeria, it has become more visible that we have failed to take care of the vulnerable among us – the elderly, the homeless and physically challenged individuals. This people may not have the disease, but they bear the brunt of the disease. With the loss of their sustenability power, many of them rely on government palliatives to sustain themselves. But with no adequate data, how can they be covered in government palliatives?”

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She therefore urged the government to develop accurate data, covering gender perspectives.

“It is important that we have an accurate citizens data; we must have a comprehensive data bank which will help us identify the vulnerable among us.”

Amongst other things, she also recommended improvement in the healthcare system of the country.

“We must improve our healthcare system, deprioritize reproductive health and family planning services at this time, and we need to promote health insurance and make healthcare affordable for all.”

The Lagos State University Second Virtual Public Lecture was themed “Political Economy and the Environmental Context of Covid-19”

While Speaking on “The Economic Perspective of Covid-19”, Dr Jameela Yaqub, decried the negative impact of the pandemic on individuals and nations noting that “the outbreak of the Coronavirus in December, 2019 has brought considerable human suffering and economic disruption on the entire world”.

She predicted that the economic impact of the pandemic would be severe in the coming days.

“Because of the pandemic, nearly half of jobs would be lost, global poverty would increase and more than half a billion people would be pushed into poverty leading to a global recession.”

The implications are not any better for Nigeria economy, as according to the scholar, there will be an increase in unemployment and decrease in consumption.

“Many micro-entreprenuers will close shop, there will be decline in investment and increase in government expenditures.

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“Prolonged COVID-19 and poor oil price will impact negatively on the FAAC allocations to States and LGAs, allocation to MDAs, institutions etc hence institutions such as universities have to look inward for improve IGR.”

In order to drive speedy economic recovery in Nigeria, Dr Yaqub urged the government to adopt zero interest financing model, grant tax waivers to households and businesses, intensify efforts to diversify the economy, spend more on agriculture and create accurate data to effectively distribute palliatives.

Director, Centre for Planning Studies, Lagos State University, Professor Ayo Omotayo, who spoke on Environmental Factors in Planning for Pandemic Resilience in Lagos State, revealed that there are positives to take from the lockdown.

“For the environmentalist, there are three sides of the issue of the pandemic. “On the positive side, the earth is taking a breather from the incessant and unabated pollution of all forms and kinds. On the negative side, morbidity and mortality has increased leading to severe economic losses and human hardship and suffering. Lastly, it has provided opportunity for the examination of the role of environmental factors in the negative aspects of the pandemic.

“He listed the environmental factors implicated in the Covid-19 as “population density, city morphology, intra/inter city movement, humidity, wind speed and BEMP (Built Environmental Mediated Pathways).

He explained that Lagos is central to his study because of the population of the state, it’s economic importance as the richest state in Nigeria, and the concentration of Nigeria’s wealth within an area in the state. He further explained that Lagos being the most hit state in Nigeria, can recover quickly by “defining urban system resilience, engaging with what resilience entails, examining expected disasters, understanding the diffusion techniques and categorisation of areas on the basis of scientific criteria.”

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An Associate Professor and former Head of Department, Political Science, Lagos State University, Dr. Mudasiru Suraj, on his part spoke on the Politics of Covid-19, examining the dimensions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Suraj argued that there are both International and national dimensions to Covid-19 politics. “Yes we have seen different dimensions of politics of the pandemic at both international (exemplified by the war of words between China and America) and national levels (blame game between the ruling and opposition parties in Ghana and Nigeria). Within and among nations, we are seeing authoritative allocation, there are competing interests, limited resources for Covid-19, and human being as political animals. Covid-19 emerged within multidimensional global and national context.

On the implications of the pandemic for international relations, he argued that China is using the pandemic as an advantage to gain what he called “China soft power” through medical diplomacy, funding of international organizations like the WHO and support for anti-Taiwan nations and Bodies.

The Virtual Public Lecture was moderated by Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Wahab Elias. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun was the Chief Host.

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