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Robtel Neajai Pailey examines the disproportionate effect on women of the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

A report for the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), published on International Women's Day (8 March), and authored by Senior Research Officer Robtel Neajai Pailey, finds that the Ebola virus affected men and women differently, due in part to pre-existing gender inequalities. 

Anecdotal evidence has long suggested to experts that infectious diseases tend to exacerbate the socio-economic vulnerabilities that are already present prior to an outbreak. In examining the situation of men and women before, during and after the outbreak, this AfDB report, 'Women's Resilience: Integrating Gender in the Response to Ebola' confirms this suspicion. Its suggestions include that the Ebola crisis increased infection rates among women because of their traditional roles as caregivers, marketers and cross-border traders. Restrictions imposed as a result of the outbreak on cross-border trade had serious impacts on women's livelihoods, women who comprise 70 per cent of all cross-border traders in the Mano River Union sub-region, which includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The report highlights the need to address systemic gender inequality in tandem with trying to build resilience to Ebola and future infectious disease shocks in households and communities, as well as for greater gender disaggregated data. 

Read the full report

Read about Robtel Neajai Pailey's current work at IMI on Migrants in Countries in Crisis