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In the Shadows of the Pandemic: The Gendered Impact of COVID-19 On Rohingya and Host Communities

The impact of COVID-19 on the Rohingya and host communities has exacerbated existing discrimination and inequalities. Women and girls face an increase in unpaid care work, greater protection risks in and out of their homes and more mental health issues, while simultaneously being less able to access lifesaving services and support. Vulnerable groups and those that were already marginalized and excluded have all faced greater challenges and risks.

“Men cannot not go to work and in any case, there is no work. Because of the containment measures they cannot go out to the villages and earn money. They have to stay at home. They beat their wives. Women are suffering from the violence.” (Female, 24, Rohingya, CPJ Volunteers) 

These findings are discussed in the new report ‘In the Shadows of the Pandemic: The Gendered Impact of COVID-19 on Rohingya and Host Communities’, released by the ISCG Gender Hub, in collaboration with ACAPS-NPM Analysis Hub, Care, Oxfam and UN Women.   

The research was conducted using primary data collected in Rohingya and host communities in Cox’s Bazar to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on age, gender and other social characteristics, and to analyse how the socio-cultural context helps or hinders people’s ability to cope with the crisis.  

The findings showed that COVID-19 and the accompanying containment measures have had a significant impact on women, girls, men and boys, the report also considers its impact on further marginalised groups including female sex workers, transgender persons and people with disabilities and analyses the different challenges for Rohingya and host communities. The report provides a detailed breakdown on the impact of COVID-19 in six key sectors and working group: Health, Protection, Communication with Communities, Education, Food Security, and WASH. 

Understanding these impacts is crucial to ensuring a response that does not leave the most vulnerable behind. Achievements that have been made towards gender equality and women and girl’s empowerment are at risk of being undone by COVID-19. Gender norms and roles have barely changed during the pandemic and given that COVID-19 has further restricted women’s mobility in public spaces, increased social stigma and GBV, making it challenging for women and vulnerable community leaders and first responders to take an active leadership role.  

For any further inquiries, contact:

Joelle Charbonneau, Communications and Knowledge Management Officer, ISCG Gender Hub; joelle.charbonneau@unwomen.org

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
Assessment Capacities Project
CARE International
Inter Sector Coordination Group - Bangladesh
OXFAM
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
Cluster(s)/Sector(s): 
Original Publication Date: 
14 Oct 2020
Document type: 
Analysis Report
Theme(s): 
COVID-19
Child Protection
Communicating with Communities
Gender
Refugees and Returnees
Sexual and Gender based Violence
Coordination hub(s): 
Cox's Bazar
Disaster(s)/Emergency: 
Bangladesh: Rohingya Refugee Crisis 2017-2020