COVID-19 and the gendered impacts on adolescent wellbeing: Evidence from a cross-sectional study of locally adapted measures in Ethiopia, Jordan, and Palestine

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date









Adolescence; COVID-19; Gender; Mixed methods; Wellbeing


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated policy responses have interrupted services, increased financial stress, and driven social isolation, with acute impacts for adolescents. This study explores relationships between gender, COVID-19 vulnerability, social protection, and adolescent wellbeing in three diverse contexts: Ethiopia, Jordan, and Palestine. Methods: This study presents findings from a quantitative phone survey with adolescents in Ethiopia, Jordan, and Palestine ( = 5752) on household-level vulnerability to COVID-19-related shocks, household-level social protection (cash transfers or food aid), and locally adapted outcome measures designed to capture the gendered impacts of COVID-19 (collected between November 22, 2020 and February 25, 2021). We examine the relationship between each outcome and household-level COVID-19 vulnerability and social protection (and their interaction) using multivariate regressions, adjusting for adolescent and household characteristics. Findings: For all adolescents, increased vulnerability to COVID-19-related shocks is associated with worse outcomes for resilient coping and time spent on domestic tasks and care work. Across samples, girls spent over two additional hours on domestic and care work compared to boys. Girls in more vulnerable households experienced greater gendered constraints on behaviour. We find no association between receipt of social protection and adolescent wellbeing, and find that it only moderates the effect of COVID-19 vulnerability for less vulnerable households. Disability status, being out of school, and experiencing child marriage are also associated with adverse outcomes. Interpretation: Our study highlights that the pandemic has exacerbated underlying gender inequalities across adolescents in three very different settings, and that existing social safety nets are not adequate to fully address these impacts, particularly for the most vulnerable. Funding: This work was supported by UK aid through a grant from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) longitudinal research study; the EMERGE project (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grants: OPP1163682 and INV018007; PI Anita Raj) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.


Global Health