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How We Can Reduce Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19

Photo: Jakob Dall/CARE

Photo: Jakob Dall/CARE

Photo: Jakob Dall/CARE

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have adverse and disproportionate effects on women and girls around the world, particularly in the rise of gender-based violence. CARE is working to prevent and respond to this issue in 24 countries.

“We know that when emergencies hit, women and girls come last,” says CARE’s Humanitarian Policy Director Susannah Friedman. CARE has been thinking about how COVID-19 is going to impact gender based violence (GBV) since early March, when we released the first Gender Implications of COVID-19 report in mid-March.

In the last 6 weeks, we’ve come a long way. We’re not just thinking about the implications of COVID-19 for GBV; we’re taking steps to prevent it. CARE is working to prevent and respond to GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic in 24 countries around the world.

When emergencies hit, women and girls come last.

Susannah Friedman

What are we doing?

Supporting women directly. In Ecuador, the team developed a virtual support mechanism for people stuck at home that provides orientation to prevent GBV, in addition to psychosocial support to persons with COVID-19. 5,000 people in Palestine and 4,217 people in Peru have gotten information about how to get help if they experience GBV.

Keeping attention on the issue. Honduras is using their existing advocacy and messaging platforms around domestic workers rights and gender equality and social norms to include messaging on COVID-19 and GBV.

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Helping local partners stay informed. Ecuador is hosting virtual events through Zoom, Facebook live and others for nearly 14,000 people, where they talk about GBV prevention, human mobility and labor rights in the context of COVID-19. Lebanon is sharing GBV referral and service information with local community organizations. Chad, Cuba, and Uganda are all sharing referral information with other NGOs in country.

Connecting health staff. Somalia has reached more than 10,000 people with GBV referral information, especially working through health centers. Ghana has been training staff, local authorities and partners in gender-responsive risk communication and community engagement with emphasis on personal protection, household preparedness, and GBV prevention. Bangladesh, Chad, and Peru are all working with health center staff to make sure they can effectively respond to GBV.

A young girl living in a Bangladeshi refugee camp. Photo: Josh Estey/CARE
A young girl living in a Bangladeshi refugee camp. Photo: Josh Estey/CARE

How are we doing it?

Making sure our staff are prepared. CARE has created guidelines on GBV and COVID-19 to ensure we’re responding to GBV. 13 countries, including Georgia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Rwanda are sharing GBV referral information with staff.

Getting connected to community leaders. Six countries are working with community leaders to make sure that they have the GBV referral information they need to help respond to cases.

Using social media. Chad, Indonesia, Nepal, and Timor-Leste are all using social media platforms to share messages around GBV and where to get services and support for GBV.

Analyzing the local context. CARE has not only released a global rapid gender analysis, we’re conducting more than 50 RGAs in different regions and countries to ensure we understand what GBV risks are in local contexts and how we can respond to them.

Getting better data. CARE is ensuring all our data is sex disaggregated so we can see the impacts for men and women.

Keeping women at the forefront. CARE is asking women in communities to lead and tell us what they need to respond. Mali is asking women who lead savings groups to help coordinate response. The Middle East and North Africa region is looking to find specific ways to communicate with women, who are finding that the ways they usually get information from each other don’t work with social distancing. CARE is pushing to get women a seat at the table when leaders make decisions about COVID-19.

Want to learn more?

Check out the global Rapid Gender Analysis, and stay informed about what we’re learning in dozens of countries.

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