Gender-based violence and COVID-19
United Nations Development Programme

Gender-based violence (GBV) increases during every type of emergency – whether economic crises, conflict, or disease outbreaks. Pre-existing toxic social norms and gender inequalities, economic and social stress caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, coupled with restricted movement and social isolation measures, have led to an exponential increase in GBV. Many women are in ‘lockdown’ at home with their abusers while being cut off from normal support services. This briefing note provides concrete actions and strategies that UNDP, UN agencies, and other development partners can take to prevent & address GBV in the context of COVID-19.

Specific recommendations include:

  • Providing policy advice to governments on integrating GBV in national/subnational COVID-19 response plans & budgets;
  • Supporting police and justice actors to provide adapted services during periods of confinement or lockdown;
  • Adapting/expanding services such as shelters, safe spaces, and essential housing along with psycho-social support and advice for individuals experiencing or at risk of GBV;
  • Promoting GBV-responsive health systems strengthening;
  • Addressing GBV risk factors in socio-economic assessment and response;
  • Building the economic resilience of GBV survivors;
  • Engaging/empowering partners to send a strong message that: violence will not be tolerated, perpetrators will be punished, services for survivors are available, and everyone has a role to play; and
  • Do No Harm by ensuring that interventions do not reinforce existing power imbalances which not only underpin GBV but also undermine broader social cohesion and sustainable recovery.