Dear G7, It’s Time to Put Girls and Women at the Top of your Agenda

The Guardian

The Ebola outbreak has served as a prolonged and revealing stress test, exposing countries’ deep vulnerabilities well beyond the disease response. In particular, Ebola’s relentless and disproportionate toll on girls and women has highlighted how precarious their health and rights are worldwide — and how much work will remain even after Guinea and Sierra Leone join Liberia as Ebola-free.

Women have borne the brunt of Ebola. It’s estimated that 56 women have been infected for every 44 men. But that’s not all. Ebola-stricken nations have witnessed a dramatic rise in gender-based violence, with the number of rapes reportedly doubling in some regions. Reproductive health services have also suffered devastating setbacks. Fear of Ebola infection has deterred pregnant women from seeking care in health centres and health personnel from assisting deliveries, triggering an upsurge in women dying during childbirth.

These troubling trends are symptomatic of a bigger problem: gains for girls and women are often the hardest won and the most easily lost. In times of crisis, women’s rights hang in the balance. For this to change – it can and must – governments must increase investment in girls and women, especially in their sexual and reproductive health and rights.