The global pandemic COVID-19 lays bare and exacerbates existing inequalities. For adolescent girls and young women in many places, this means that the harmful impacts of patriarchy and gender inequality are magnified and intensified. The coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns heighten the perpetration of gender-based violence; elevate risks of child, early and forced marriage and unions (CEFMU); reduce mobility and spaces for mutual support and solidarity; increase the burden of unpaid care work; and, in some cases, raise the likelihood of girls staying out of school compared with boys—to name only some of the consequences.
The increased rights violations and impacts on the lives of adolescent girls and young women will not necessarily recede after the peak of the pandemic. And even if they did, we cannot accept a return to “pre-COVID” levels of inequality—we have to aim higher. We must continue working toward and investing in a feminist vision where young women and adolescent girls—in all their diversity—are free and equipped to choose their own futures.
We are calling on funders of all types and sizes—foundations, governments and others—to stand with adolescent girls and young women during and after this global pandemic. This means taking a human rights-based, gender-responsive approach during the crisis, and funding and supporting gender-transformative approaches over the long term. This is the only way to effectively tackle the root causes of the inequalities adolescent girls and young women face everywhere.
The Child, Early & Forced Marriage & Unions, and Sexuality Working Group* and Partners: Aahung, American Jewish World Service*, CARE*, CREA, Firelight Foundation, Global Fund for Women*, Girls First Fund, Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage*, GreeneWorks*, International Center for Research on Women*, International Women’s Health Coalition*, The Kendeda Fund, MADRE*, Nirantar Trust*, Plan International*, Population Council*, Promundo*, The Summit Foundation, UNFPA, UNICEF, and The YP Foundation