16-year-old Australian student Mayela Dayeh will address the The United Nations general assembly Wednesday evening to present the results of a survey that shows young women and girls bear a greater economic, domestic and emotional burden and work harder during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study, published by the humanitarian organization Plan International as part of a report entitled “Halting Lives – The impact of Covid019 on girls and young women”, interviewed more than 7,000 young people aged 15 to 24 in 14 countries .

“I think Covid exacerbated issues that we already knew existed, that we had either become complacent or comfortable with, especially in terms of the gender divide,” said Dayeh, a high school student.

“Looking at my circle of friends and acquaintances, they are expected to take on greater responsibilities at home, and there has been an absolute decline in mental health. “

As part of the Plan International survey, 7,105 young women and girls in Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Spain, United States United, France, Vietnam and Zambia were interviewed between June 9 and July 14. They were asked about their knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on their lives in terms of education, well-being, economic security, livelihoods and access to technology.

Almost a third (26%) were worried about the loss of household income due to the pandemic, and 62% said they were having difficulty because they could not attend school or university. More than half (58%) of the girls felt the negative effects of not being able to leave home regularly, while 58% pointed out not being able to socialize with friends as a negative consequence of the pandemic. Nine in ten girls surveyed said they felt high or medium levels of stress or anxiety as a result of the pandemic.

In Africa, the inability of girls and young women to attend school or university was the most frequently cited negative effect (20%). Girls and young women in Spain and India reported the highest levels of “major changes” in their lives, according to the survey.

“This matches reports of lockdowns in these two countries,” the report said. “Spain has had the most reported cases in Europe and quickly imposed a nationwide quarantine to stop the spread. India also had one of the toughest lockdowns in the world. The severity of the Indian lockdown has not necessarily resulted in fewer cases… Unsurprisingly, perhaps, as India’s high levels of poverty and overpopulation make social distancing virtually impossible.

A report from the United Nations Population Fund, published in April, the predicted disruption related to the six-month lockdown could leave 47 million women globally unable to use contraception, leading to a forecast of 7 million more pregnancies. The United Nations report also said “Over the next decade, the often overlooked secondary impacts of Covid-19 could also lead to 31 million new cases of gender-based violence, 2 million more cases of female genital mutilation and an estimated 13 million. no more child marriages ”. This was seen during the Ebola outbreak, while there was a spike in unwanted teenage pregnancies in Sierra Leone.

Plan International survey respondent Lucilene, 16 from Mozambique, said: “I live with my brother and my parents who chose not to talk about topics like sexual health because they are very traditional. I am concerned that if the coronavirus does not go away soon, many girls growing up in families like mine will not be able to access the useful information we get from school girls’ clubs. “

A co-author of the Plan International report, research director Isobel Fergus, said the survey results revealed that “the opportunities we fought so hard for are disappearing.”

“They told us about the tensions at home, the feeling of loneliness and being out of school, their friends and the easy freedoms to get out and move around,” Fergus said. “It’s going to be very difficult to make up for this lost time and the digital divide is making it difficult for girls, especially in low-income countries, to access the information they need for their education and health. “

When the results are presented to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Dayeh will call on it and other international donors to pay special attention to low-income countries. Education ministries must prioritize the continuity of learning during school closings, the assembly was told.

Holly Crocket, Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement for Plan International Australia, said: “The survey is a wake-up call for governments to recognize that health emergencies affect groups differently.

“For girls, the risks of staying at home are increased,” she said. “It affects their mental health and puts them at greater risk of domestic violence. Due to patriarchal social norms that require girls to take on the vast majority of unpaid household chores, there is a real threat that they will be forced to drop out and not attend school.