Recently a group of Ministers representing 59 countries, including Australia’s Foreign Minister, the Hon. Marise Payne, and Fiji’s Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic ‘makes existing inequalities for women and girls, as well as discrimination of other marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty worse and risks impeding the realisation of human rights for women and girls.’ Minister Payne also emphasised that in formulating responses to crisis, ‘the guiding question always should be: are women and men affected differently by this issue, and, if so, how can we achieve fairer outcomes?’
The ability to anticipate how the pandemic will affect different groups and develop informed, rapid policy and budgetary responses is constrained by significant gender data gaps. One important gap relates to poverty data. Deprivation increases the risk of poor health outcomes. Understanding who is experiencing what kind of deprivation is critical to effective, targeted action. However, poverty data continues to be routinely collected about households, masking differences between individuals and social groups.
Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) data from Fiji, collected prior to COVID-19 with the Fiji Bureau of Statistics, provides multidimensional poverty data that can be disaggregated by sex, age and disability. This makes it possible to see any differences in the circumstances of men and women, so these differences can inform action to address the pandemic and its consequences. This brief presents a range of data relevant to planning gender-sensitive responses to COVID-19 and its impacts, to support decision makers and assist the focus and efficacy of responses.