Press Release: Gender assessment in Kyrgyzstan reveals concerning results about the impact of COVID-19 on women

According to a recent rapid gender assessment conducted by UN Women with the support of the Swiss Government, European Union and the United Nations joint Spotlight Initiative and UNFPA, women, specifically those from the most vulnerable situations, are impacted disproportionately by the pandemic.

Date: Friday, June 19, 2020

Bishkek, 19 June 2020 — The assessment found that 21 per cent of respondents (women and men) experienced stress, anxiety, mental and emotional health as a result of the pandemic. Women accounted for a significant majority of these respondents (40,1 per cent). The study also showed that the burden of unpaid care and domestic work increased, especially for women.

The assessment also revealed an unequal balance of gender power relations in governmental organizations that managed the crisis response and an unfair distribution of roles between women and men in these structures. The study showed that representation of men in the commandant’s offices and the republican headquarters was 80 per cent.

One of the objectives of the study was to examine the general context, and how the pandemic and measures taken by the authorities affected women and men, especially those in vulnerable situations, such as women living with HIV, the elderly, women survivors of violence, women entrepreneurs and ethnic minorities.

“Gender assessment is a gender and age desegregated data analysis, which gives us a complete picture of how the quarantine and pandemic affected the population of Kyrgyzstan. When conducting the study, we used two approaches: human rights-based approach allowed us to see how services were provided without discrimination on the basis of gender, age, disability, or other characteristics,” said Ulziisuren Jamsran, UN Women Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic.

She notes that a gender approach was used to study the opportunities of women and men in accessing resources, how the restrictions imposed on citizens affected their economic situation and employment, as well as unpaid domestic work, reproductive health and other aspects.

Assessment found important results about people’s awareness about and preparedness for the pandemic and their main sources of information. According to the data from the analysis, people aged 18 to 45 received basic information about quarantine and the situation in the country through social media; and people aged 45 and above, through radio, television and newspapers. Women survivors of violence received information through SMS and only 3.5 per cent of them were able to prepare for quarantine. Women living with HIV were informed by their friends, family and community, while ethnic minorities and women entrepreneurs through official government sites.

According to the assessment, women allocated more time for cleaning, cooking, playing games with their children and talking and reading to them, while men allocated time mostly to gardening and shopping for the family. 35,6 per cent of women responded that their partners did not help at all, while only 15 per cent of men answered the same. The respondents, in particular women (32,7 per cent), faced difficulties because of suspension of public transport, while men were less concerned about this inconvenience (19,3 per cent).

The study also reflects recommendations for state authorities, at both central and local levels, civil society organizations and international organizations.

The results of the assessment are available here.