Reducing gender inequalities through responding to COVID-19 and its impacts

The COVID-19 pandemic is a gendered crisis, deepening inequalities and exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems, which in turn amplify the impacts of the pandemic.

People wait at a COVID-19 health check station in Yangon, Myanmar
People wait at a COVID-19 health check station in Yangon, Myanmar. © U Aung/Xinhua/Alamy Live News

Rates of sexual and gender-based violence and violence against women and girls have increased across the world. Women have experienced disproportionate economic vulnerability and increased domestic demands, alongside higher exposure to contagion, while data indicates higher mortality rates for men and ever increasing pressures on livelihoods.

Gender equality must be made an integral part of the COVID-19 response, particularly in conflict-affected contexts. Interventions must be designed to understand the differing needs of women, men and those of non-binary identities by adopting an intersectional approach that accounts for diverse socio-economic status, ethnic identity and disability, among other dimensions.

This work in action

Gender-based violence prevention during COVID-19 in Myanmar

Our Myanmar team and local partners conducted a gender-based violence prevention campaign via social and traditional media to adapt to the pandemic context.

The campaign provided an online national resource consolidating all the relevant hotlines and referral pathways which was accessed by thousands of users.

Alongside this, the team ran a men-focused messaging campaign on Facebook, radio, TV, print media and public transport, which emphasised self-control instead of violence.

A video with five popular musicians and an animation  in five ethnic languages reached five million viewers in its first three months.

Gender-based violence prevention during COVID-19 in Kyrgyzstan

Our Tatyktuu Zhashoo (Living in Dignity) project in Kyrgyzstan is working to ensure that key messages on preventing violence against women and girls reach religious and marginalised communities.

Violence against women and girls has been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19, and levels will not decrease without dedicated strategies that address the structural causes.

Our Kyrgyzstan team are conducting a review of the National Action Plan to ensure that tackling violence against women and girls is included in the design and implementation of post-COVID-19 recovery strategies in the country, and that the plan is inclusive of, and has buy-in from, religious communities and leadership.

This will be supported by gender-sensitisation workshops with religious leaders to challenge patriarchal narratives related to women’s role in society and that condone violence against women, and instead find religious justification for its prevention.

A communications campaign involving gender-based violence prevention videos for social media and TV aims to counter these harmful narratives within religious and marginalised communities.

Other ways to build positive peace in pandemic responses

This is just one of the ways to build positive peace in pandemic responses. You can read the other ways below.

(Re)building trust and accountability between citizens and states

Countering divisive narratives and building bridges across divides

Supporting conflict-sensitive public health and humanitarian responses, alongside long-term recovery interventions

Using evidence to inform short- and long-term responses to COVID-19 and conflict