Shadow Pandemic Action Brief

The BKMC organized a virtual high-level and multi-stakeholder roundtable on November 26th, 2020, titled “Tackling the Shadow Pandemic – Violence Against Women During COVID-19 Times”. This report is the outcome of the mentioned event.

The BKMC organized a virtual high-level and multi-stakeholder roundtable on November 26th, 2020, titled “Tackling the Shadow Pandemic – Violence Against Women During COVID-19 Times”. This report is the outcome of the mentioned event.


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V I O L E N C E A G A I N S T W O M E N<br />

D U R I N G C O V I D - 1 9 T I M E S<br />



The <strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong><br />

Facts and Statistics<br />

The COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by a multitude of exacerbated challenges in the global fight against<br />

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). In an effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading, the<br />

containment strategies placed more and more women and girls in vulnerable situations, exposing them to a<br />

<strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong> of VAWG, a term coined by UN Women, the United Nation’s Entity for Gender Equality and<br />

the Empowerment of Women. It is estimated that "the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause a one-third<br />

reduction in progress towards ending gender-based violence by 2030".[1]<br />

Health workers, such as Simret Tesfaye, a nurse at a woman's shelter in Ethiopia, are experiencing the <strong>Shadow</strong><br />

<strong>Pandemic</strong> and the intensified pressure due to COVID-19 first hand. Tesfaye reports how frontline services have<br />

not been able to deliver adequate support for survivors of VAWG due to a lack of isolation rooms and<br />

insufficient human resources. At the same time, she recounts, survivors have not gone to the police during<br />

the pandemic, making it harder to press charges afterwards and prevent repeated offences. Her work as a<br />

frontline worker has become significantly more challenging during COVID-19 times.[2]<br />

Early warnings anticipated that the measures of confinement and physical distancing could have severe<br />

effects on VAWG. Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, every 1 in 3 women globally experienced<br />

sexual or physical violence at least once in her lifetime.[3] With half of the world’s population in lockdown,<br />

women and girls are immediately at greater risk of experiencing sexual or physical violence within their<br />

homes and beyond.<br />

Domestic Violence<br />

Other Forms of Violence<br />

Other forms of VAWG are also under immediate<br />

During lockdown measures in the first half of<br />

2020, Argentina experienced a 25% increase of<br />

pressure due to COVID-19. The United Nations<br />

Office on Drugs and Crime warns that "the living<br />

emergency calls reporting domestic violence.<br />

France’s domestic violence cases increased by<br />

conditions of many trafficking victims, such as<br />

those in domestic servitude or sex slavery, forms<br />

30% and the demand for helplines increased by<br />

of exploitation that disproportionately affect<br />

30% in Cyprus and 33% Singapore. The statistics<br />

women and girls” are at severe risk.[6] COVID-19<br />

in Canada, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom,<br />

also brought along a disruption in efforts to<br />

Australia and the United States reflect similar<br />

prevent child marriages. The United Nations<br />

increasing developments in the reports of<br />

Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that this<br />

domestic violence and demand for emergency<br />

could result in an additional 13 million child<br />

shelters.[4] At the same time, essential services<br />

marriages to take place between 2020 and 2030<br />

have been compensated. A UK survey found that<br />

that could otherwise have been prevented.<br />

three-quarters (76%) of UK frontline service<br />

UNFPA also pointed out that addressing Female<br />

providers had to decrease their service delivery<br />

Genital Mutilation (FGM) has become more<br />

for VAWG cases because of COVID-19. With<br />

difficult as prevention efforts are compensated.<br />

increasing pressure on health care services due<br />

This could result in a failure to avert 2 million<br />

to the prioritizing of COVID-19 cases, chances are<br />

cases of FGM.[7] Furthermore, the use of the<br />

high that access to urgent support for victims of<br />

internet increasing by 50%-70%, as social life has<br />

VAWG will be disrupted.[5] Moreover, increasing<br />

shifted to the online sphere, is accompanied by a<br />

unemployment due to the accompanying<br />

heightened risk of cyber violence against women.<br />

economic crisis leads to economic dependence,<br />

[8] During the lockdown and confinement, tweets<br />

preventing women from escaping abusive<br />

from India, Indonesia and the Philippines<br />

relationships. Studies have shown that less than<br />

containing misogynistic language doubled week<br />

40% of all women experiencing violence, report<br />

over week in May 2020.[9]<br />

the crime or ask for support.<br />

0 2

affected by violence before<br />

women<br />

COVID-19<br />

in demand for helplines<br />

increase<br />

Cyrus and Singapore<br />

in<br />

in domestic violence<br />

increase<br />

calls in Argentina<br />

emergency<br />

women who face violence<br />

of<br />

or seek help<br />

report<br />

of frontline service<br />

reduction<br />

VAW survivors in UK<br />

for<br />

child marriages to occur<br />

additional<br />

2020 and 2030<br />

between<br />

cases of FGM that<br />

additional<br />

could have been averted<br />

otherwise<br />

in internet use leading to<br />

increase<br />

cyber violence<br />

heightened<br />

Facts and Statistics<br />

1 in 3<br />

High-Level Roundtable<br />

Despite substantial evidence on the negative<br />

The BKMC Co-chairs Ban Ki-moon and Heinz<br />

effect of COVID-19 on VAWG, the Ban Ki-moon<br />

Fischer, Executive Director of UN Women<br />

Centre (BKMC) observed a lack of widespread<br />

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Prime Minister<br />

awareness on the issue. Taking action, the BKMC<br />

of New Zealand Helen Clark, CEO of Avon Angela<br />

Cretu, Regional Director of UN Women Asia and<br />

organized a virtual high-level and multistakeholder<br />

roundtable on November 26th, 2020,<br />

Pacific Mohammad Naciri, and women’s rights<br />

titled “Tackling the <strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong> – Violence<br />

activist Trisha Shetty came together to discuss<br />

Against Women During COVID-19 Times”. The<br />

what steps must be taken to address the spike in<br />

event was open to all and held during the<br />

VAWG during COVID-19 times. The event's<br />

international Orange the World campaign.<br />

moderator Monika Froehler, CEO of the BKMC,<br />

Headed by UN Women, the Orange the World<br />

provided insights on facts and statistics on the<br />

campaign raises awareness for VAWG annually<br />

<strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong> and asked the diverse<br />

during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-<br />

audience from 20 different countries to share<br />

Based Violence from the 25th of November, the<br />

their perspectives on VAWG during COVID-19 via<br />

International Day for the Elimination of Violence<br />

online live polling. Considering the exacerbated<br />

Against Women to the 10th of December,<br />

risks in their region, the audience perceived the<br />

International Human Rights Day. The High-Level<br />

expansion of frontline services, awarenessraising,<br />

and education of men and boys to be<br />

Roundtable took place in support of these multistakeholder<br />

efforts to end VAWG.<br />

crucial tools to tackle the <strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong>.<br />

Insights from the Opening Speakers:<br />

Ban Ki-moon,<br />

8th Secretary-<br />

General of the<br />

United Nations<br />

Heinz Fischer,<br />

11th President of the<br />

Republic of Austria<br />

Phumzile<br />

Mlambo-Ngcuka,<br />

Executive Director<br />

of UN Women<br />

Violence against women and girls is<br />

Women constitute half of the<br />

We have seen the whole world<br />

one of the most pervasive human<br />

world's population and can only<br />

respond to the coronavirus<br />

rights violations and perhaps the<br />

unfold their full potential when<br />

pandemic, with all hands on deck.<br />

most obvious manifestation of the<br />

free of violence. We must talk<br />

Men’s violence against women is<br />

deep imbalances in power in our<br />

about the changing dynamics of<br />

societies. As a global community,<br />

VAWG during COVID-19. What can<br />

also a pandemic – one that predates<br />

the virus and will outlive it.<br />

we must not look away. We must<br />

we do to protect and support<br />

It too needs our global,<br />

engage in an open dialogue and<br />

women and girls during periods of<br />

coordinated response and<br />

bring all stakeholders to the table.<br />

quarantine, social distancing?<br />

enforceable protocols.<br />

0 4

Key Statements and<br />

Recommendations:<br />

Governments Private Sector International Organizations Civil Society<br />

Rt. Hon. Helen Clark<br />

Hon. Rt Helen Clar<br />

is the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and former UNDP Administrator. Helen Clark<br />

chairs several organizations and serves on multiple public good Advisory Boards. She continuously speaks on<br />

issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Women’s Leadership. Sharing her unique<br />

insights as former head of government, Clark shed light on the governmental responsibility to tackle the<br />

<strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong>:<br />

Legislation:<br />

To tackle the shadow pandemic, the issue of VAWG must be pushed out of the shadows through legislative<br />

measures. Changing the law to call out domestic violence as an assault is the first step that needs to be<br />

taken.<br />

Governmental Campaigns:<br />

Leading governmental campaigns that carry compelling messages is key to gain the support of other<br />

stakeholders. New Zealand, for example, initiated “It’s not OK” campaign, calling for the need to address and<br />

end VAWG.<br />

Women’s Leadership:<br />

As the proportion of women in parliament grows, issues that predominantly affect women are finally<br />

addressed. The government of Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand successfully pushed for legislation making it<br />

easier for survivors of domestic violence to flee their home while receiving ten days of paid leave.<br />

Women Advisors:<br />

Asking women what they need from policymakers to make their lives safer is crucial. Gender-sensitive<br />

responses can only be effective if women are part of the decision-making and if they are engaged and<br />

involved in designing what is required.<br />

0 5

Key Statements and<br />

Recommendations:<br />

Governments Private Sector International Organizations Civil Society<br />

Cret is the CEO of the global beauty company Avon, a keen advocate for gender equality, and a<br />

Angela Cretu<br />

Angela<br />

champion of Avon's mission to create a better world for all, through women. Under her leadership, Avon has<br />

doubled down on its long-term commitment to tackling gender-based violence, with new programs and<br />

funding to drive positive social change. Representing the private sector, Cretu drew on her experience as best<br />

practice:<br />

Sustainable Missions:<br />

Private sector companies have a responsibility to go beyond selling their products and services and align<br />

their mission and agenda with sustainability and core values of society such as dignity, well-being, and<br />

freedom of choice.<br />

Leveraging Influence:<br />

Private sector companies are highly influential. They can and should do their part to eliminate VAWG by<br />

cooperating with NGOs, legislators, raising awareness, writing letters to governments, or mobilizing funds for<br />

frontline services.<br />

Supporting Employees:<br />

The private sector is responsible for creating earning opportunities for women that allow more flexibility and<br />

contribute to more financial freedom of women. Only 40% of women survivors report their violent<br />

experiences. This gives testimony that more must be done to secure the economic stability of women, to<br />

empower them to leave abusive relationships.<br />

Training Employees:<br />

Businesses should train their employees to read signs of abuse to protect their own communities of<br />

employees and customers. Avon partners with Vital Voices Global Partnership to train its employees in taking<br />

on responsibility in the fight against VAW.<br />

0 6

Key Statements and<br />

Recommendations:<br />

Governments Private Sector International Organizations Civil Society<br />

Naciriis the Regional Director of UN Women for Asia and the Pacific with considerable experience<br />

Mohammad Naciri<br />

Mohammad<br />

in the international development sector working for multiple international organizations. He has supported<br />

Yemen in the formulation of its Gender Strategy and the Gender Responsive Budgeting process and worked in<br />

Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Cambodia, dealing with issues from human trafficking to ethnic cleansing.<br />

With his extensive background in the multilateral sector, Naciri pointed out the following:<br />

Regional Differences:<br />

In the Asia-Pacific region, the rate of VAWG has been even higher than the global average. Two out of three<br />

women have reported experiences of violence, which underscores the need for regional and local<br />

perspectives in gender-sensitive responses.<br />

Online Violence:<br />

Since lockdowns and physical distancing measures pushed more people online, digital platforms are being<br />

increasingly used to spread sexist and dangerous rhetoric about women, inciting hatred and potentially<br />

provoking violence online and offline. Legislation that criminalizes cyber harassment and stalking must be<br />

expanded and women’s capacity to identify, report and block hateful content must be built.<br />

Patriarchal Structures:<br />

The deeply-rooted ideas of patriarchy exacerbate the vulnerability of women to male violence. It must be a<br />

common effort of all stakeholders to unteach traditional gender-roles, communicate messages and images of<br />

women empowerment, tackle harmful traditional cultural and religious narratives and work with men and<br />

boys to dissolve patriarchal ideas.<br />

International Cooperation:<br />

International organizations play a key role in strengthening systems, improving access to essential services<br />

for survivors in remote areas, raising awareness, and disseminating guidance to governments and<br />

humanitarian actors to help shape services that respond to the increase in VAWG during COVID-19 through<br />

technology and remote support options.<br />

0 7

Key Statements and<br />

Recommendations:<br />

Governments Private Sector International Organizations Civil Society<br />

Trisha Shetty<br />

Trisha S<br />

ettyis a lawyer and full-time social activist, who founded SheSays, a non-profit organization and<br />

online platform that aims to end gender-based discrimination and advance women’s rights in India by<br />

engaging youth as agents of social change. She has dedicated herself to addressing gender-based violence<br />

and advocates for women and youth to have equal representation in leadership positions. Shetty addressed a<br />

variety of crucial issues, drawing from her experience on the ground:<br />

Cracks in a System:<br />

Our system presents cracks when dealing with survivors of VAWG. While survivors have spoken up about this<br />

issue, the system has actively ignored their voices or deliberately silenced them. As a result, women’s bodies<br />

have become politicized, preventing women from seeking justice for crimes perpetrated against them.<br />

Failed Leadership:<br />

Leadership continuously shies back from holding uncomfortable conversations. The fact that marital rape is<br />

legal in India and is not recognized as crime is a sign of the failure of leadership to call this out as a human<br />

rights violation. Leaders must speak up and actively condemn VAWG.<br />

Awareness for the <strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong>:<br />

COVID-19 has helped us acknowledge that VAWG is a global pandemic that is not restricted to developing or<br />

under-developed countries. The pandemic has made us realize that violence is a health issue and not only a<br />

women’s issue.<br />

Need-Driven Responses:<br />

From its early beginnings, SheSays pledged to be a need-driven and not solely cause-driven organization.<br />

Surveys and audits can help to point out the void and the gaps that need to be filled. Based on these findings<br />

SheSays started to provide financial, mental health, and legal support to women survivors of violence.<br />

Ending Victim-Blaming:<br />

Survivors are speaking up about the injustice they are facing. They challenge norms and go against cultural<br />

taboos by demanding justice. Blaming the victims is a reflection of a system that is not brave enough to listen<br />

to survivors and provide them with the help they need.<br />

0 8

Take <strong>Action</strong> to Tackle the<br />

<strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong>!<br />

Recommendations what you can do to end VAWG:<br />

1<br />

Listen to and believe survivors<br />

2<br />

Learn the signs of abuse and how you can help<br />

3<br />

Start a conversation on social media<br />

4<br />

Call on governments to bridge funding gaps<br />

5<br />

6<br />

Speak out, be present, pay attention!<br />

Take a stand by calling VAWG out when you see it<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10<br />

Reach out and follow up with friends and family<br />

Donate to women’s organizations<br />

Know the data and demand more of it<br />

Watch and share the High-Level Rountable:<br />

0 9

UNFPA. "Impact of the COVID-19 <strong>Pandemic</strong> on Family Planning and Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and<br />

[1]<br />

Marriage." unfpa.org, 27 April 2020, https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/COVID-<br />

Child<br />

Tesfay, Simret. "From where I stand." unwomen.org, 1 June 2020, https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/6/from-wherei-stand-simret-tesfaye,<br />

[2]<br />

retrieved on 9 February 2021.<br />

UN Women. "Facts and figures: Ending violence against women." unwomen.org, November 2020,<br />

[3]<br />

retrieved on 06 February 2021.<br />

https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures,<br />

UNODC. "Impact of the COVID-19 <strong>Pandemic</strong> on Trafficking in Persons." un.org, 2020, https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/wpcontent/uploads/2020/05/Thematic-<strong>Brief</strong>-on-COVID-19-EN-ver.21.pdf,<br />

[6]<br />

retrieved on 06 February 2021.<br />

UNFPA. "Impact of the COVID-19 <strong>Pandemic</strong> on Family Planning and Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and<br />

[7]<br />

Marriage." unfpa.org, 27 April 2020, https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/COVID-<br />

Child<br />

Naciri, Mohammad. "Opinion: How women are fighting for peace in a militarised cyberspace." Thomas Reuters Foundation News, 18<br />

[9]<br />

2020, https://news.trust.org/item/20201028171445-u9wn2/, retrieved on 06 February 2021.<br />

October<br />

+43 664 916 3281<br />

T<br />

0018 1037 Vienna, Austria<br />

P.O.B.<br />

office@bankimooncentre.org<br />

www.bankimooncentre.org<br />

Sources:<br />

19_impact_brief_for_UNFPA_24_April_2020_1.pdf, retrieved on 08 February 2021.<br />

UN Women. "The <strong>Shadow</strong> <strong>Pandemic</strong>: Violence Against Women and Girls and COVID-19." unwomen.org, 2020,<br />

[4]<br />

https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2020/issue-brief-covid-19-and-endingviolence-against-women-and-girls-infographic-en.pdf?la=en&vs=5348,<br />

retrieved on 06 February 2021.<br />

UN Women. "COVID-19 and Essential Services Provision for Survivors of Violence Against Women and Girls." unwomen.org, 2020,<br />

[5]<br />

https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2020/brief-covid-19-and-essentialservices-provision-for-survivors-of-violence-against-women-and-girls-en.pdf?la=en&vs=3834,<br />

retrieved on 06 February 2021.<br />

19_impact_brief_for_UNFPA_24_April_2020_1.pdf, retrieved on 08 February 2021.<br />

UN Women. "Online and ICT facilitated violence against women and girls during COVID-19." unwomen.org, 2020,<br />

[8]<br />

https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2020/brief-online-and-ict-facilitatedviolence-against-women-and-girls-during-covid-19-en.pdf?la=en&vs=2519,<br />

retrieved on 06 February 2021.<br />

In support of the Orange The World campaign • a cooperation between<br />

© 2021 by Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens<br />

blog.naver.com/bankimooncentre<br />


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