Working Group 1: Gender Equality and SRHR

COVID-19 is making it even more difficult than usual for women and girls to participate equally in all aspects of social and economic life and exacerbates existing inequalities. This workshop’s focus was the pandemic’s impact on gender equality across a variety of sectors that have immediate effects on SRHR, and how a gender-responsive and cross-sectorial approach can be used in responding to and recovering from the pandemic.

  • The morning workshops were led by Catherina Hinz, Executive Director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development.
  • Naisola Likimani, Lead of the SheDecides Support Unit, ran the workshops in the afternoon.

Main Challenges:

  • Immediate consequences of COVID-19: a dramatic rise in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), forced or very young marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). In addition, lockdowns and closed schools and childcare facilities are exacerbating existing inequalities, specifically burdening marginalized populations.
  • Increased burden on women: the pandemic is taking a major toll on women who often have both professional AND domestic responsibilities. The majority of health care workers on the frontline of the pandemic also tend to be female.

Opportunities and solutions:

  • Technological innovations: apps for reporting sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) offer women and girls the chance to reach out for support discretely.
  • Raising awareness for SGBV: information on domestic violence has become more visible.
  • Putting a gender lens on policy: many new SRHR and health service regulations have been introduced as a result of COVID-19, offering an opportunity to promote gender equality.
  • Safe social spaces: social spaces such as youth centres or sports groups are a secure place for many women and girls and should be used as a safety net.