10 Nov 2014
Randi Davis, Director, Gender Team
Susana Fried, Senior Gender/HIV Advisor
With borders closed and travel restricted, small holder farmers, mostly women, are hard put to get to community markets to sell their produce. © 2014 Morgana Wingard
Years of combatting HIV, malaria and tuberculosis - all of which have taken a harsh toll on women in sub-Saharan Africa - reveal lessons that, if heeded, could help stem the tide of the Ebola epidemic.
There is little doubt that women are at the frontline of the Ebola crisis, as they are most often responsible for caring for sick relatives at home, or likely to be working as nurses, traditional healers and health facility cleaners.
There is scant reliable data disaggregated by gender on the current outbreak, but reports suggest it has a particularly destructive impact on women. With medical facilities overwhelmed, expectant mothers are often left without pre-natal care, obstetric services and newborn care. With borders closed and travel restricted, small holder farmers, mostly women, are hard put to get to community markets to sell their produce. Isolated by quarantines or orphaned by Ebola, girls and young women are at increased risk of gender-based violence and exploitation.
Acknowledging the disproportionate impact of Ebola on women is a first step, but it’s not enough. To succeed, responses must put gender-specific realities and needs front and center.
It is critical to recognize and involve women as leaders in their communities. Women …