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One of the ways in which the 2020 global COVID-19 crisis is affecting women and girls particularly heavily is through the alarming increase in gender-based violence (GBV). GBV in all its many forms increases during every type of emergency and the current health and economic crisis is no exception. The further pressure of lockdowns and movement restrictions associated with the pandemic response has seen domestic violence, in particular, surge in country after country. The situation is made worse by reduced availability and capacity of support services for survivors and those at risk of violence. Women in marginalised communities are especially vulnerable.
A severe lack of funding and inadequate planning continues to stand in the way of adequate response efforts to address the alarming increased risk of violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though 1 in 3 women experienced violence even before COVID-19’s spread, UNFPA projections indicate that for every three months lockdown measures continue, an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence could be expected globally.
The scale of this ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women and girls has generated widespread media coverage and discussion, and prompted a plea from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a domestic violence ‘ceasefire’. The result is that the issue of GBV is currently higher on policy agendas and more present in the public consciousness than ever before. In the midst of this greater awareness of the risk to women and girls of GBV during the COVID-19 crisis, the upcoming 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign presents us with an important opportunity to further our advocacy objectives, not only on recognising and addressing the risk to women of GBV during the pandemic but also to amplify our calls to ratify and implement ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, C190.
A quick reminder that the C190 ratification campaign is CARE’s ‘Tier 2’ global advocacy campaign and country offices and CMPs alike are urged to use the spotlight of 16 Days 2020 to advance our campaign, alongside advocacy around the most pressing GBV issues in the local or regional context.
The 16 Days campaign will be live from 25 November to 10 December 2020. CARE will use the media spotlight to advocate in 4 areas, drawing on advocacy priorities of the GBV, humanitarian and WEE/dignified work outcome areas:
1. To recognise the severity and devastating impacts of the shadow pandemic and demand that GBV prevention, risk mitigation and response are prioritised in all COVID-19 funding, response and recovery plans and policies.
2. To highlight that women working in precarious jobs and especially in the informal sector are particularly at risk of increased GBV, especially during the current crisis, and have little recourse to legal and other protection.
3. To urge governments to ratify and implement the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, C190.
4. To call on companies to strengthen their workplace policies and practices so that women are protected from violence and harassment in the world of work.