Gender and Communities

The gender impacts of COVID-19 but also the responses to the virus may vary in different groups and communities. Especially groups that face housing precarity are more susceptible to experience great hardship during and after the pandemic.

For migrants and asylum seekers living in temporary centres and for homeless people access to clean water, soap and food might not be guaranteed. Women are especially vulnerable when they find themselves in such precarious housing conditions which render them unable to take care of themselves and their children, or get support and protection from gender-based violence. LGBTQ individuals may also be subject to particular forms of discrimination and violence within such contexts. Whereas more public attention has been focused on government measures, very little attention has been paid to the bottom-up strategies that groups and communities devise in order to become resilient especially in such difficult and demanding situations.

These may include informal social support networks activated during times of crisis in order to promote sharing, exchanging and taking responsibility for everyday resilience. There are several examples of such initiatives, such as soup kitchens in neighbourhoods, support for refugees and migrants in crowded hot spots and prisons, and networks providing vulnerable groups with necessary items that illustrate how solidarity can act as a catalyst against the negative social impact of crises with gender equality at its centre. Women have played historically an important role in sustaining such informal practices, especially important amongst groups, who face precarity, such as the homeless, the unemployed, migrants and refugees. Are there any community responses to the challenges that these groups face? Do these initiatives consider gender perspectives and aspects of COVID-19? For example, there are migrant women’s organisations, who are using their own resources to support others to cope with health, but also economic and social challenges? One related question is the extent to which policies can become more gender sensitive and support feminist bottom-up responses to COVID-19.