People in urban and rural areas are aware of Covid-19 and accept it is a disease as opposed to a conspiracy. However, only women and some men in urban areas say they still follow health guidelines to stop spread of the virus (such as frequent handwashing with soap). Men, especially those living in rural areas, have negative attitudes towards COVID-19 and their perceptions are mainly driven by rumours.
Media has been the main source of information about COVID-19 with mullahs and community leaders also providing information in rural areas. TV is most trusted among those who have access to it. Most people now want to know when, where and how they can access COVID-19 vaccine.
Women and people living in urban areas are still concerned about COVID-19. Men, however, are more concerned about unemployment and poverty.
Female participants more commonly report concerns about Coronavirus. They are concerned because they feel responsible for keeping children and other family members healthy. They are also worried about the impact on their children’s education. Women in rural areas are concerned about the length of time their children have been out of school (since March) and, as a result, some are concerned their children may become targets for insurgent recruitment.
“I heard from my neighbours that insurgents attempt to recruit teenage boys who are out of school due to Covid-19 school closures. I am very concerned about my children.” - Mother of five children, Faryab
Men, especially those from rural areas, do not talk about the same concerns around COVID-19 compared to women. Male participants feel that the concerns of their community members are unemployment and poverty which have intensified during the lockdown. Many of them, especially poor and daily wage earners, are struggling to earn. As a result, they are desperate to go back to work and in denial that COVID-19 still exists.