Johannesburg, 9 August: Women’s rights organisations are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide sex disaggregated data on vaccine roll out in a campaign launched on Women’s Day.

A petition signed by 43 Women’s Voice and Leadership partners calls on the president to “provide sex disaggregated data on vaccine roll out and all COVID-19 statistics in line with the national gender policy, global and regional commitments to understanding the gendered impact of all government endeavours.”

The petition is part of the #VaccineGenderJustice campaign being spearheaded by the civil society organisations. South Africa one of the few countries in the world in which women constitute the majority of those infected and dying of the COVID-19 pandemic. This reflects the deep underlying gender inequalities that fuel the pandemic.

Women constitute 70 percent of frontline health workers, home-based care givers and of those who have been most affected by the pandemic through loss of jobs; disruption to the informal sector and of cross border trade. The pandemic has also resulted in an escalation of gender based violence, referred to by the President as the “twin pandemic” of COVID-19.

So far, less than 10% of South Africans have received one, let alone two vaccinations. This is lower than the global average of 14% and much lower than the average in most developed countries, where over half the population has been vaccinated.

While WVL partners “applaud the efforts in recent weeks to escalate the roll out of vaccines to all corners of the country,” they are waging a campaign to ensure that the “vaccine apartheid” now apparent globally is averted in South Africa. Eleven WVL partners are conducting vaccine awareness campaigns in remote parts of the country; assisting elderly women and mariginalised groups to register and get vaccinated.

Sex disaggregated data is available on COVID-19 cases and deaths, but not vaccine roll out. “We cannot monitor vaccine roll out effectively without information on the uptake by women, men, the LGBTIQ community, people living with disability, and other key demographic factors,”WVL stated.

In addition to demanding gender data, the petition that is being launched on Women’s Day calls on the President to:

  • Extend vaccines to those under 35 as soon as possible;
  • Ensure that vaccine roll out reaches marginalised groups including migrant women, people with living with disability, the LGBTIQ community, sex workers, the elderly as well as women living in rural areas;
  • Prioritise those with serious co-morbidities.

WVL-SA is a fund created and funded by Global Affairs Canada as part of its feminist foreign assistance policy. In South Africa, where the fund is managed by Gender Links.

For more information, please contact the Grants coordinator, Nomthandazo Mankazana on 082 560 0066. Additional information and presentations on feminist perspectives on the vaccine rollout can be accessed on the community of practice forum. The petition can be signed on the petitions platform of the community or by going to https://www.change.org/sexdisaggregatedCOVID-19data.