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Back to Health: Making Up for Lost Time

A Feminist Recovery

The pandemic has disproportionately hurt women and girls, and the recovery from it needs to address their vulnerability to crises. In fact, the only way to “build back better” from the pandemic is with a feminist policy response.

BEIRUT – Last year, when the COVID-19 crisis erupted, I advocated for a feminist response. Policies to mitigate the pandemic’s immediate effects and ensure that our societies emerged stronger and more resilient needed to have women’s safety and rights at their center. A year later, such a response – which is urgently needed in the Arab region – is nowhere to be found.

Violent conflict, natural disasters, and epidemics disproportionately affect women and girls, because systemic barriers leave them far more vulnerable than men and boys to such crises.

One such barrier blocks them from information. In the Arab region, nearly half of women and girls lack access to the internet or a mobile phone, compared to 34% for men and boys. Moreover, 33% of women are illiterate, compared to 19% of men. These discrepancies mean that women are far less likely to understand the risks they face or how to mitigate them.

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