Safety in Solidarity: How Understanding the Gendered Needs of Communities Means Safety for All

Elizabeth Asanion, 45, wears her protective goggles during a relief operation conducted by Community Organizers Multiversity, with support from Oxfam Philippines, titled Care4Wife: COVID-19 Assistance and Response to Emergency Needs for Women in Informal Economy in Namapa Compound, Barangay North Fairview in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. 9 June 2020. (Original photo by Basilio Sepe, illustrated by Vina Salazar)
Paper author: 
Nastasia L. Tysmans
Paper publication date: 
Monday, February 8, 2021

In this briefing note, Nastasia L. Tysmans highlights four key insights from the report which ought to urge us even more to integrate practices of solidarity into ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19. It’s not too late to implement a gender-sensitive and effective decision-making strategy to mitigate the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups in the Philippines. Neither is it a difficult task considering how these communities already practice forms of solidarity in order to guarantee safety for all.

These revitalizing insights come from the recently published Regional Rapid Gender Assessment (RGA) report of Oxfam Pilipinas: Voices from the Compounded Crisis: Oxfam COVID-19 Rapid Gender Assessment Regional Highlights in the Philippines. The RGA is part of the inter-agency national COVID-19 RGA coordinated and led by UNFPA, Oxfam Philippines, CARE Philippines, Plan International, UNICEF, UNHCR, and UN Women.

One of the most essential findings of the RGA was that the absence of a targeted and gender- responsive national approach to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 was also partly due to the lack of demographic data. Gender-related data and statistics are not systematically reflected and analyzed in national COVID-19 public reports. It can be assumed, therefore, that the interests of the most vulnerable could not adequately be championed by decision-makers who were not aware of the gendered impacts that the pandemic posed. Whether it is a true lack of awareness or negligence on the part of decision-makers, the importance of having the information to make better decisions cannot be understated.

Thus, Oxfam Pilipinas’ RGA highlights the need for global and national strategic plans for COVID-19 that are grounded in strong gender analysis and reflect inclusivity in representation. It calls for decision-making that results in the implementation of equitable and effective policies that do not discriminate against those with little means and those who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.