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Gendered care at the margins: Ebola, gender, and caregiving practices in Uganda’s border districts

In July 2019, Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was declared a public health emergency of international concern and neighbouring countries were put on high alert. This paper examines the intersections of gender, caregiving, and livelihood practices in Uganda’s border districts that emerged as key factors to consider in preparedness and response. This paper is based on an anthropological study of the Ebola context among Bantu cultures. We report on data from focus group discussions and key informant interviews with various sectors of the community. The study identified intersecting themes reported here: (1) women as primary caregivers in this context; and (2) women as providers, often in occupations that increase vulnerability to Ebola. Findings demonstrate the role that women play inside and outside the home as caregivers of the sick and during burials, and intersections with livelihood-seeking strategies. Because women’s caregiving is largely unpaid, women face a double burden of work as they seek other livelihood strategies that sometimes increase vulnerability to Ebola. Epidemic response should address these intersections and the context-specific vulnerabilities of caregivers; it should also be localised and community-centred and able to attend to the cultural as well as the economic needs of a community…

Schmidt-Sane, M., Nielsen, J., Chikombero, M., Lubowa, D., Lwanga, M., Gamusi, J., … & Kaawa-Mafigiri, D. (2021). Gendered care at the margins: Ebola, gender, and caregiving practices in Uganda’s border districts. Global Public Health, 1-13.

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