Bangladesh

The first cases of COVID-19 in Bangladesh were reported on 8 March, 2020, and as of 6 July 2020, Bangladesh has had nearly 165,000 confirmed cases. The number of corona positive in the country increased rapidly. In response to the rapid transmission, the state announced lockdown on 26 March, 2020 which led to the closure of all public and private educational institutions, offices, transport etc. and people were asked to strictly stay at home. Without the option to work from home, the informal sector in Bangladesh (87% of the workforce) has been crippled by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown.

In Bangladesh, many people who are living below the poverty line, with limited resources to make a living. This pandemic has affected vulnerable populations, including informal workers, and other marginalized communities, such as transgender/hijra community, sex workers, Dalits (untouchables), persons with disabilities, female headed households, widows, ethnic minorities, refugees, and street peddlers.

The economic lockdown necessary to save lives will ultimately increase poverty, hunger and destitution. In Bangladesh, nearly 31% of the informal workforce are reportedly women, though the unofficial numbers may be higher. Among the women, 91.8% of the total are employed in the informal sector which includes domestic work, sex workers, informal care providers for babies, children and the elderly, etc. These women may now be out of jobs due to the strict lockdown. The recurring dilemma plagues them: if they are continuing to work, they are putting themselves at a health risk; if they are not working, they risk starvation. 

BRAC’s rapid gender assessment explores that violence against women has risen since the lockdown. Frustrations regarding income and health lead to fragile social relationships. Men take out these frustrations on their wives, and women in the house. With increasing violence, and nowhere to turn, many women are trapped at home with their abusers.

With all resources focused on combatting the pandemic, there is limited access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, such as clean and safe deliveries, contraceptives, and pre- and post-natal health care. JPGSPH found that new mothers and pregnant women faced greater psychological stress due to lack of access to ante- and postnatal services. They are unable to vaccinate their children and even struggle to buy nutritious food for them.

Men make up nearly 80% of COVID-related deaths in Bangladesh. With curtailed movement as a result of the preventative measures against COVID-19, the virus is taking a toll on men’s mental health. Socially, the men in the country are conditioned to be responsible for ensuring their households are financially solvent. Especially in rural and conservative areas, women are not allowed to leave the house, much less hold jobs. It is then solely the men who are expected to earn and meet the needs of their family. The real fear of losing their jobs, or facing reduced income, caused greater stress and anxiety in men.

Naturally, some of the biggest challenges caused by COVID-19 are being faced by healthcare and front-line workers. Nearly 11% of infected cases are healthcare workers. In addition to the obvious health risks, front-line workers did not receive adequate protective equipment for over a month after the outbreak began in Bangladesh. Community Health Workers in Bangladesh are females and they have also (along with doctors and nurses facing a lot of stigma from within their local communities and local areas. 94% of nurses are female in the Bangladeshi health sector.

bangladesh-header

Bangladesh

The first cases of COVID-19 in Bangladesh were reported on 8 March, 2020, and as of 6 July 2020, Bangladesh has had nearly 165,000 confirmed cases. The number of corona positive in the country increased rapidly. In response to the rapid transmission, the state announced lockdown on 26 March, 2020 which led to the closure of all public and private educational institutions, offices, transport etc. and people were asked to strictly stay at home. Without the option to work from home, the informal sector in Bangladesh (87% of the workforce) has been crippled by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown.

In Bangladesh, many people who are living below the poverty line, with limited resources to make a living. This pandemic has affected vulnerable populations, including informal workers, and other marginalized communities, such as transgender/hijra community, sex workers, Dalits (untouchables), persons with disabilities, female headed households, widows, ethnic minorities, refugees, and street peddlers.

The economic lockdown necessary to save lives will ultimately increase poverty, hunger and destitution. In Bangladesh, nearly 31% of the informal workforce are reportedly women, though the unofficial numbers may be higher. Among the women, 91.8% of the total are employed in the informal sector which includes domestic work, sex workers, informal care providers for babies, children and the elderly, etc. These women may now be out of jobs due to the strict lockdown. The recurring dilemma plagues them: if they are continuing to work, they are putting themselves at a health risk; if they are not working, they risk starvation. 

BRAC’s rapid gender assessment explores that violence against women has risen since the lockdown. Frustrations regarding income and health lead to fragile social relationships. Men take out these frustrations on their wives, and women in the house. With increasing violence, and nowhere to turn, many women are trapped at home with their abusers.

With all resources focused on combatting the pandemic, there is limited access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, such as clean and safe deliveries, contraceptives, and pre- and post-natal health care. JPGSPH found that new mothers and pregnant women faced greater psychological stress due to lack of access to ante- and postnatal services. They are unable to vaccinate their children and even struggle to buy nutritious food for them.

Men make up nearly 80% of COVID-related deaths in Bangladesh. With curtailed movement as a result of the preventative measures against COVID-19, the virus is taking a toll on men’s mental health. Socially, the men in the country are conditioned to be responsible for ensuring their households are financially solvent. Especially in rural and conservative areas, women are not allowed to leave the house, much less hold jobs. It is then solely the men who are expected to earn and meet the needs of their family. The real fear of losing their jobs, or facing reduced income, caused greater stress and anxiety in men.

Naturally, some of the biggest challenges caused by COVID-19 are being faced by healthcare and front-line workers. Nearly 11% of infected cases are healthcare workers. In addition to the obvious health risks, front-line workers did not receive adequate protective equipment for over a month after the outbreak began in Bangladesh. Community Health Workers in Bangladesh are females and they have also (along with doctors and nurses facing a lot of stigma from within their local communities and local areas. 94% of nurses are female in the Bangladeshi health sector.

Posts on Bangladesh

Gender Working Group

We meet online on the third Wednesday of every month to discuss key issues, activities, opportunities, and ideas for collaboration. We have a long and growing list of resources on gender and COVID-19.

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Bangladesh
Bangladesh

Gender Working Group

We meet online on the third Wednesday of every month to discuss key issues, activities, opportunities, and ideas for collaboration. We have a long and growing list of resources on gender and COVID-19.

JOIN US >

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