Kinshasa: 800 women receive resilience kits to cope with Covid-19
In order to fight the spread of Coronavirus, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo enforced several measures from 19 March 2020, such as the closure of public places, including schools and markets, and called on the population to reduce movements. Kinshasa, the capital of DRC and the center of economic activities, is also the epicenter of the epidemic and has been isolated from other provinces.
The majority of Congolese women and their families live in the informal economy, without social security coverage. Since the beginning of the health crisis, many women had their incomes reduced sharply or have found themselves unemployed, while the price of food and necessities continues to rise.
UN Women, with the financial support of the Swedish Embassy, developed and distributed hygiene and resilience kits to enable 800 women and their families to compensate for the lack of income, use their savings to purchase other items, such as medicines, and access quality information about the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The kits are distributed by a Consortium of women’s lead organizations to women and girls whose incomes have dropped since the beginning of the crisis, such as street vendors and women who run small businesses in markets. Other groups of women and girls have also received kits, such as female students whose family lives outside Kinshasa, homeless women and girls, elderly or disabled women.
Each bucket is illustrated with pictures and messages in Lingala, Kinshasa’s local language, explaining the right gestures and listing national Coronavirus emergency numbers. Each kit contains 10 kilos of food and essential hygiene products for women, such as sanitary pads, water purification tablets, and bleach. They also include soap, alcohol-based gel and tissues, which enable women to follow sanitary instructions and protect themselves when caring for sick family members.
Ebola epidemics’ experience shows that women are more at risk because of their traditional caregiver roles and have less access to quality information. Limited mobility and stress induced by fear and uncertainty also increase the risk of domestic and sexual violence. DRC National Police figures for the city of Kinshasa already show a 5% increase in violence in March 2020. These figures only take into account violence reported to the police.
Kits’ composition, and identification of beneficiaries, were determined through consultations with UN Women's partners, gathered in the Solidarity Consortium. These include the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), the National Dynamics of Women Candidates (DYNAFEC), the National Network of Rural Women's Associations (RENAFER), the National Coordination of Students and other organizations working with people at risk.
The kits prompt preparation and distribution was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Swedish Embassy. The Minister of Gender, the Minister of Health, the Minister of people living with handicap, WHO and the Covid-19 national task force, also took part in the handover ceremony,