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Social isolation and disrupted privacy: impacts of Covid-19 on adolescent girls in humanitarian contexts


Written by Nicola Jones

Hero image description: 13-year-old girl living in an Informal Tented Settlement in Jordan Image credit:Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has shattered the everyday lives of young people, limiting peer interactions and disrupting privacy, with potential for long-term detrimental impacts. This study uses rapid virtual quantitative and qualitative surveys undertaken from April to July 2020 with over 4,800 adolescents affected by displacement in Bangladesh and Jordan to explore adolescent girls’ experiences of social isolation and lack of privacy.

Our mixed-methods findings suggest that the pandemic and policy response has caused sharp restrictions on privacy and substantially limited interactions with peers, with larger impacts on girls, particularly those with disabilities. For girls, digital exclusion exacerbates these gender differences. Given that privacy and peer interactions are paramount during adolescence, age-, gender-, and disability-responsive programming is essential to ensure future wellbeing.

13-year-old girl living in an Informal Tented Settlement in Jordan
Sarah Baird, Sarah Alheiwidi, Rebecca Dutton, Khadija Mitu, Erin Oakley, Tassew Woldehanna and Nicola Jones