With one out of three women abused or subjected to gender-based violence in their lives, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a global pandemic. No country, whether in peaceful, crisis and conflict situations, is free from that ill.
The Covid-19 crisis has put a spotlight on existing structural gender inequalities and the different realities that women and men are facing. Loss of income, deteriorating working conditions, closure of schools, changes in daily life and the home quarantine put an added burden on women, who traditionally take on more responsibilities at home and in the family and struggle to find jobs in the formal labour market.
Both the pandemic and the measures meant to limit the spread, exacerbate gender discrimination, fuel VAWG and represent a significant threat to gender equality efforts. The rates and severity of VAWG, particularly domestic violence including sexual violence, have surged. Stress, unemployment, and financial instability are additional triggers for domestic violence while social distancing and isolation are amplifying domestic violence. Yet, VAWG and women’s rights continue to be overshadowed on the political agendas.
At work and at home, women are on the frontline providing care and services to the Covid-19 crisis response. Women’s rights organisations have urgently stepped in to avoid a discontinuity of care for sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial services during the lockdown and provide services and referrals to women and girls victims of violence, in shelters, support centers and help lines. However, women remain largely under-represented in the governance and decision-making bodies.
In this context, the members of the EuroMed Feminist Initiative network from both shores of the Mediterranean are partaking in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (25 November- 10 December 2020) in order to raise the voice of women and call political leaders and decision-makers in the Euro Mediterranean region to set VAWG as a political priority at all times.