WASHINGTON, April 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- During the COVID-19 crisis, children, particularly girls, are among the most vulnerable due to cultural and gender norms, as well as reduced access to healthcare and education, warns Plan International. The organization is repurposing programs in more than 75 countries and is mobilizing funds and resources to protect the most vulnerable populations from the direct and latent impact of the virus.
"The COVID-19 infection does not care about gender. But society does," said Dr. Tessie San Martin, President & CEO of Plan International USA. "How society sees and treats gender—the spoken and unspoken, conscious and unconscious biases that gender norms create—put girls at higher risk of contracting the virus. These biases also affect how the actual response to the pandemic is designed and executed, potentially creating further risks and exacerbating inequalities that existed before the pandemic."
An estimated 740 million girls have been forced out of education due to COVID-19 and families are facing profound economic setbacks that will have great influence on the life of children and girls.
"The financial impact of the pandemic is huge. Some parents are marrying off their daughters," said Astar, 18, from Senegal.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, Plan is drawing upon 80 years of experience advancing children and girls' rights to help prevent transmission of the virus in vulnerable communities, particularly in refugee camps and among displaced populations. The risks to children and girls are particularly high in these settings. Plan has seen a number of crises and brings its cumulative experience from each to coordinate a global COVID-19 response by:
Scaling up its multimedia COVID-19 awareness campaign to promote hygiene and hand-washing in communities worldwide.
Supporting remote education, including virtual learning and supply of home-based learning material, by working with education ministries and other partners.
Promoting social protection structures such as safe shelters and helplines for vulnerable girls and women to report violence.
Ensuring access to menstrual hygiene supplies and age-appropriate health information for adolescent girls.
Providing cash support to at least 100,000 vulnerable households to address loss of livelihoods.
Plan is working with teachers, parents, health care providers and partners to ensure children, particularly adolescent girls, get the support they need during and after this crisis.
"With the growing spread of COVID-19, we need to not only respond to the immediate needs of girls, but we should also remember not to leave them behind," continues Dr. San Martin. "The only way forward is together because unless everyone is protected from the virus, no one is safe."
Donate to Plan International's COVID-19 appeal and find out more about our response here.
(Plan International experts are available for media interviews)
About Plan International USA Powered by supporters, Plan International USA partners with adolescent girls, young women and children around the world to overcome oppression and gender inequality, providing the support and resources that are unique to their needs and the needs of their communities, ensuring they achieve their full potential with dignity, opportunity and safety. Founded in 1937, Plan is an independent development and humanitarian organization that is active in more than 80 countries.