Since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have reported alarming rates of violence, exploitation and other abuse, especially intimate partner violence among women and other marginalized groups. UN Women has warned that, as countries continue lockdowns and sheltering-at-home measures, a shadow pandemic of violence is growing. More than ever, the United Nation’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an important opportunity for international development organizations to commit to identifying ways to prevent and respond to violence, exploitation and other abuse in the communities where humanitarian and development projects are being implemented.

Eight recommended actions
Action 1: Gather information to understand how violence directly impacts program participants and the availability of services for victims and survivors of violence and exploitation in your communities.

Action 2: Develop strategies and plans to address an increase in domestic violence, sexual exploitation and other abuse among program participants. Consider interventions for the short term (six months to one year) and medium term (program duration).

Action 3: Equip your program team to respond appropriately to support those seeking assistance.

Action 4: Create new ways to engage program participants in the planning and implementation of programs, including activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Action 5: Update referral pathways to reflect changes in available medical care, psychosocial support, legal and emergency housing for victims and survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse.

Action 6: Include violence prevention and response activities in annual work plans as current funding permits. Include these activities in any new funding requests.

Action 7: Explore innovative ways to help people stay connected and decrease isolation.

Action 8: Disaggregate data related to COVID-19 outbreaks by sex, age and disability.

Read the full article about reducing gender-based violence by Kim Dixon at degrees.