Effects of COVID-19 on Women and Children in Kenya

Catherine Mwihia


Six months into the COVID-19 crisis, thousands of news stories have been published warning of the increased risks of violence against women and children. School closures, social distancing and confinement increase the risk of poor nutrition among children, their exposure to domestic violence, increase their anxiety and stress, and reduce access to vital family and care services. Research from previous health, economic, and political crises supports this dynamic, predicting increases in multiple risk factors for diverse forms of violence. Yet most press coverage relies on month-to-month statistics from highly volatile single sources from high-income countries like helplines, hospitalizations, and police records. This paper review rigorous studies that have analyzed how COVID-19 and related policies are impacting rates of violence against women and children and highlight more reliable methods, while acknowledging limitations of underlying data sources. COVID‑19 has exposed the vulnerability of many families to deal with economic shocks. Countries have therefore introduced emergency to give families extra cash. Local governments also provide extra support. The COVID‑19 crisis will make children vulnerable who were not vulnerable before. In the aftermath of the crisis, health, education and family support services should take on board the lessons learnt on how to best develop resilient and crisis-proof child policies, data and service infrastructures to support families and children. Understanding mechanisms underlying these dynamics are important for crafting policy and program responses to mitigate adverse effects. This paper may be used by researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to help inform further evidence generation and policy action while situating violence against women and children within the broader need for intersectional gender- and feminist-informed pandemic response.

Keywords: Pandemics, women, violence, against, children, COVID-19

DOI: 10.7176/JPCR/54-01

Publication date:July 31st 2021

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ISSN 2422-8443

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