Urban poor women often lead the way towards the realization of land and housing rights for their communities. However, they face many challenges largely because they are women, a situation which has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research is a continuation of the 2019 Urban Poor Women’s Stories and aims to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women living in urban poor communities. Interviews were conducted with twelve women, from eight urban poor communities in Phnom Penh, facing the threat of eviction.
This report illustrates that urban poor women have faced intensified effects as a result of COVID-19, largely due to their status as women. Traditional gender roles effectively confine women to their respective homes and communities, exposing them not only to a greater risk of contracting the virus, but also to various challenges which affect their mental health. As urban poor women are primarily responsible for the everyday needs of the household, COVID-19 has increased the burden on them, and amplified their vulnerabilities. Majority of the respondents have had significant impacts on their physical and mental health as a result of food insecurity, inadequate living conditions and loss of income, which have further exacerbated their existing fears on their land tenure insecurity.
In order to build back better from the socio-economic consequences which have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia, social protection mechanisms and land titling should be prioritized in order to ensure the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in society are not further impoverished.
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