A call to action . . .
Today, the world commemorates the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, a day to show support for survivors and activists and shed light on the urgent and collective effort required to stop gender-based violence worldwide, especially as countries battle COVID-19. As multiple recent reports demonstrate, the pandemic has intensified all types of violence against women and girls globally. According to the Asian Development Bank, more than 37 per cent of women in South Asia and 40 per cent of women in Southeast Asia have experienced violence at their partner’s hands. As COVID-19 continues to trigger lockdowns, school closures, and dampen economic activity, women and girls from all walks of life are at higher risk of losing incomes and community supports that can assist them to escape violence.
Reduced income, increased vulnerability . . .
COVID-19 has exposed women’s heightened vulnerability to economic downturns and future uncertainty. Women disproportionally bear the financial brunt of virus containment efforts, leaving them economically dependent where it is harder to escape abusive situations. For instance, according to the Indonesian Finance Minister, female-dominated jobs – such as in tourism, family-run businesses, and restaurants – have been more vulnerable to COVID-19’s impact than male-dominated jobs. Further, instances of online sexual abuse and harassment in Indonesia have also alarmingly doubled during the pandemic, highlighting the need to pass the sexual violence eradication bill, which has been, unfortunately, stalled in parliament.
Beyond renewing commitments . . .
Canada renewed its commitment to ending gender-based violence at home and abroad, particularly through its feminist approach to foreign policy and international assistance. Canada can have a positive impact through its humanitarian efforts assisting refugee populations worldwide, where, according to the U.N., women and girls are under prolonged threat as COVID-19 exacerbates financial strains and movement restrictions imprison victims with their abuser. On the home front, support for organizations with an intersectional lens that fights gender-based violence, like the Moose Hide Campaign, will be crucial for eliminating violence against women.