COVID-19 exacerbated inequalities in a short time. Groups already marginalized ran the risk of being further left behind. The ILO Policy Brief - COVID-19 and the world of work: Ensuring no one is left behind in the response and recovery – provided an overview of specific groups that risk being left behind: people with disabilities, indigenous and tribal peoples, people living with HIV, and migrant workers.
The world of work response in Malawi was built around the SDG commitment of leaving no one behind. As part of the UN country team and in collaboration with the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, the COVID-19 response in the world of work kept its focus on women and girls, people living with HIV, persons with disability and other groups in vulnerable situations.
Lack of correct information about groups in vulnerable situation was identified as a basic need in the COVID-19 Prioritisation Plan, which stressed on development of communication and awareness materials with the engagement of community.
A message development workshop was organized which brought together key stakeholders from government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, networks of people living with HIV, and civil society organizations to develop and agree on key messages.
Salient features of the strategy:
The messages aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination and informing people about COVID-19 and its prevention.
Communication materials were developed for people living with HIV, women and girls and persons with disabilities and were disseminated through different channels.
The world of work leaders came forward and demonstrated their commitment to ensure that the COVID-19 response is all-inclusive, leaving no one behind.
Malawi- ECAM) and ILO joined hands to produce and telecast TV programmes in order to sensitize employers on their role to protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups during COVID-19.
Four TV programmes of 20-25 minutes were developed and telecast on national television. Episodes included different topics and included messages from key stakeholders, including people living with HIV.
“In our COVID-19 guidelines, all workers are seen from the same lens. We should treat everyone – women and girls, people living with HIV and persons with disability - equally.”
– H. Kelvin Nyangulu, Labur Commissioner, Malawi
“We need to go an extra mile to support people living with HIV and others to keep them working… and we need to ensure that they do not get exposed to COVID-19”
- George Khaki, Executive Director, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi
“We should be willing to amend laws and polices if need be to ensure that everyone is protected; and we should work on economic empowerment of all vulnerable groups.”
- Dennis Kalekeni, General Secretary, Malawi Congress of Trade Unions.
“COVID-19 has affected our livelihoods, besides enhancing the risk of treatment disruption. In this scenario, the communication and advocacy effort initiated by the ILO is very welcome. It is good to be part of it, share our concerns and get to know that there is support for the right to work for people living with HIV in Malawi.”
- George Kampango, member, network for community HIV Treatment across Africa (AfroCAB)
- Printed communication materials and TV programmes enhanced commitment of key stakeholders to keep the attention on vulnerable groups in the COVID-19 response.
- The messages were helpful in demystifying myths and addressing misinformation related to COVID-19 that were circulating in the public domain.
- Engagement of communities was key in creating a reality- based and impactful communication.
- Developing materials in vernacular languages and ensuring distribution through different channels, including at workplaces were found very effective.