Approaches to support women's rights and address GBV during Covid-19

It is encouraging to read about how our collective community is responding to incredibly difficult issues in these trying times. For example, the topic about ensuring an effective response for incarcerated people in prisons has been truly heartening given the circumstances surrounding incarcerated people right now, especially seeing concrete examples of innovative approaches being used.

One area of grave concern is the troubling increase in gender-based violence that is spreading globally. The UN Secretary General Guterres spoke this week calling for a “domestic violence ceasefire” during the “horrifying global surge” happening currently. Many countries are seeing cases of gender-based violence more than double at a time where people are being ordered to stay home, under curfew in many places, while police can be reluctant to respond or even actively exacerbating the situation.

I am copying a list of general recommendations released by UN Women below, and there are virtual events like this webinar on GBV from South Africa last month, or the network’s own webinar next Tuesday, April 14th that will feature @jasminkafriscik speaking about legal empowerment approaches to women’s rights. However I would appreciate hearing what members are doing practically under these circumstances. What is happening in your community? What is working? Do you know of urgent funding being opened up, or other innovative approaches that are being employed to address GBV victims under lockdown?

I acknowledge and respect that many of you are particularly busy and overly stressed right now, and I believe that a dialogue on constructive responses would surely be appreciated by your global colleagues struggling through this.

UN domestic violence reduction recommendations

  • Increase investment in online services and civil society organizations,
  • Make sure judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers,
  • Set up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries,
  • Declare shelters as essential services,
  • Create safe ways for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers,
  • Avoid releasing prisoners convicted of violence against women in any form,
  • Scale up public awareness campaigns, particularly those targeted at men and boys.



Dear friends

The pandemic Covid-19 is a threat to the world and in most cases women are affected. A good number of women are involved in petty business which enables them to feed the family. Due to measures employed to combat the pandemic like stay at home,avoiding gathering of many people women are mostly affected and sometimes subjected to gender based violence. It is a pity that the needs of vulnerable groups are sometimes not given priority.

Civil society organisations are trying to sensitize community and introducing innovative ways of doing our daily business.

We pray God that the pandemic comes to an end.

My fellow network members,lets join hands to fight the pandemic


Thank you for sharing, @FloraMasoy. Yes, we must stay strong and support one another.

Here is a very useful resource for groups looking to support survivors of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a pocket guide in multiple languages.

COVID-19 resources to address gender-based violence risks

Public health outbreaks have a distinct gendered impact on women and girls. Women and girls’ roles in their homes and communities – such as domestic and unpaid care responsibilities and as frontline health and social sector responder roles – increase their exposure to COVID-19. Furthermore, women, girls and vulnerable groups are at increased risk of GBV during public health outbreaks due to limited input and control in decision-making on a household’s response, and shifts in social safety nets, mobility and access to information/services. COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts must be responsive to these unique needs. This page contains COVID-19-specific resources and pulls from the knowledge-base of ebola, zika and cholera outbreaks.


Hi Flora,

Thank you for sharing this and highlighting how the COVID 19 pandemic could disproportionately affect women as a vulnerable group.

At a policy level, a Statement of Feminists and Women’s Rights Organizations from the Global South and marginalized communities in the Global North has been endorsed by nearly 1160 individuals and women’s networks and organizations globally, from more than 100 countries, to demand States to adopt a feminist policy to address the extraordinary challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner that is consistent with human rights standards and principles. You can read more about the issue raised on the link below: