Carter Center, Atlanta help women get access to COVID-19 information

ATLANTA - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms takes a photo of her mother, Sylvia Robinson, as she gets a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shot at Morehouse School of Medicine on Jan. 5, 2021. ERIC STIRGUS/ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.
ATLANTA - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms takes a photo of her mother, Sylvia Robinson, as she gets a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shot at Morehouse School of Medicine on Jan. 5, 2021. ERIC STIRGUS/ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.

Women bearing brunt of pandemic

In Atlanta, Black people are suffering disproportionately from the effects of COVID-19, and Black women are the group bearing the brunt of the inequity.

Black women make up 27% of Atlanta’s population, the U.S. Census says, but the most recent Fulton County Board of Health numbers say they account for 53% of all COVID-19 cases and 59% of virus-related deaths.

That worries Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and caught the attention of the Carter Center. They are starting a program to better spread key information to minority women to fight the pandemic.

On Monday, the Carter Center and Atlanta will begin promoting ATL311, a hotline for making non-emergency requests, and ATLStrong.org, a COVID-19-response website, as ways to connect women with city services that can help alleviate the impacts of the pandemic.

The Carter Center is pitching in as part of its “Inform Women, Transform Lives” campaign in 13 global cities, two of them in the U.S. It is designed to raise awareness and advocate for politicians and policymakers to build into laws and regulations access to information by women.

The Carter Center will also make small grants to civil society organizations in each of the cities to help fund projects that connect women with information.

“We want to encourage a global conversation about women’s rights to information and all the ways that information can benefit not only women but entire families and communities,” said the Carter Center’s CEO, Paige Alexander. “One of the best ways to demonstrate that is at the city level, because cities offer so many crucial services and make decisions that have a major impact on people’s everyday lives.”

Paige Alexander, CEO of the Carter Center, at the Atlanta peace vigil on Jan. 3, 2021. The Carter Center is partnering with Atlanta to improve access to COVID-19 information for women. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Paige Alexander, CEO of the Carter Center, at the Atlanta peace vigil on Jan. 3, 2021. The Carter Center is partnering with Atlanta to improve access to COVID-19 information for women. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

The pandemic’s impact on women in Atlanta has been devastating. Retail, child care, leisure and hospitality jobs — which typically are held by women and offer low pay, less flexibility and fewer benefits — have been especially hard hit. Younger women and women of color are disproportionately represented in those sectors.

The Atlanta Regional Commission reported in December that 25% of women who lost jobs reported being laid off, terminated or furloughed due to COVID-19, compared to 22% of men.

Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim, the city of Atlanta’s chief equity officer said she believes part of the blame lies with women’s lack of access to information. “We wanted to make sure that women who were most vulnerable — Black, indigenous, Hispanic and Latina – have access to information that could empower them at this time,” Abdur-Rahim said.

“If we are not intentional about getting information to women, they often are excluded from its benefits,” said Laura Neuman, director of the Carter Center’s Rule of Law Program and leader of the Inform Women, Transform Lives campaign.

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