Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, violence against women and girls, in particular domestic violence, has dramatically escalated around the world. Given the urgency, the Secretary-General issued a call for "peace in the home" and urged governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women and girls a key part of their COVID-19 national response and recovery plans.
In a letter addressed to Member States of the United Nations and the Head of Delegation of the European Union, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka urged Heads of State/Governments worldwide to take tangible actions and express their commitments to end violence against women, on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (25 November - 10 December).
With visible political will and tangible actions that protect and empower women and girls, real progress is possible, and critical, for recovering from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her letter, the Executive Director said:
"As the world prepares to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2020, I would like to call on your Government to make visible at the highest level your commitment to addressing violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19 by issuing a short statement on social media, in the form of a video message or a short text at the highest possible level, ideally at the level of Head of State/Government, highlighting:
Tangible actions undertaken to address violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19;
Future planning policies and actions to implement in this context;
Your Government's commitment to raise awareness on the issue at the national and international levels."
She further encouraged governments to use their social media platforms to disseminate their message on ending violence against women on 25 November, accompanied with the hashtag #orangetheworld.
UN Women and other partners will amplify some of the commitments on social media and record relevant policy actions on the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker.
The letter also makes reference to the recent UN interagency statement on violence against women and COVID-19. The statement is framed around four key areas:
Prioritize funding for a minimum package of essential services and include violence against women prevention in COVID-19 fiscal stimulus packages.
Make urgent and flexible funding available for women's rights organizations working at the nexus of COVID-19 and addressing violence against women
Declare national zero tolerance policy for violence against women and girls with a concrete action plan in place
Launch a COVID-19 behavior change social mobilization campaign
Undertake explicit measures so that services for survivors of violence are maintained as essential
Ensure continuum of adequate criminal justice system response.
Collect data for improvement of services and programmes
For more information on the 16 Days of Activism campaign, visit the UN Women website