Briefing paper
18 May 2020

Action on Covid-19 and gender: A policy review from Fiji

Author: William Hamilton
Published by: ALIGN
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A group of Fijian friends in the sea. © Will Seal

This briefing note reviews gender-related actions resulting from the impact of (and policy responses to) the Covid-19 pandemic. It focuses on Fiji as an upper middle-income Pacific Island Country (PIC). PICs are highly varied, yet face common challenges from relatively similar situations. Gender based gaps are wide throughout the region. From 153 countries ranked on the scale of their gender based gaps, the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index 2020 places Fiji (103), Vanuatu (126) and Papua New Guinea (127) all in the bottom third. Other similarities to the current situation include a very high prevalence of gender-based violence (with nearly two thirds of women in Fiji experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner), stark disparities in the labour market (across Melanesia, women hold only a third of jobs within the formal economy), relatively low numbers of Covid-19 infections (with a number of countries yet to record a single case) and similar responses to Covid-19 (such as curfews and restrictions on movement). This review of gender-related actions can, therefore, provide insights for a wider range of situations. 

This briefing paper outlines the current situation in Fiji, including the impact of Covid-19 on existing women’s support groups, and trajectories for gender norm change, as well as on gender-based violence, public health concerns and women’s economic empowerment.