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‘I have nothing to feed my family…’: Covid-19 risk pathways for adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries

Research reports

Written by Nicola Jones

Hero image description: Young adolescent girl in an internally displaced community in Ethiopia Image credit: Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE

Unlike the H1N1 influenza virus, to which younger people were relatively more susceptible, and Ebola, where adolescents were at greater risk than younger children but at lower risk than the most-affected age group (35–44 years), the demographic burden of Covid-19 is highly skewed towards older people aged 70 and over. Age-disaggregated statistics suggest that adolescents are least likely to be hospitalised and to die from Covid-19. Young people have typically been portrayed in the mainstream media as ‘part of the problem’ – as both vectors of the disease and reluctant to adopt preventive measures, rather than as key actors to be proactively included in the emergency and recovery responses.

So why should we pay attention to the adolescent and gender-specific effects of Covid-19? As the spike in unemployment and predictions of global recession underline, Covid-19 is not only an unprecedented health crisis but also a profound economic and social one.

This is the first in a series of briefs. It focuses on the short-term effects of Covid-19 and associated lockdowns on adolescent girls and boys in low- and middle-income countries. The next brief will focus on the effects of the pandemic six months after lockdowns.

Young adolescent girl in an internally displaced community in Ethiopia
Nicola Jones, Agnieszka Małachowska, Silvia Guglielmi, Farhana Alam, Bassam Abu Hamad, Sarah Alheiwidi and Workneh Yadete