Confronting pandemic-related violence against women

Continuing support to women experiencing violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, already staggering levels of violence against women have been rising around the world. According to a web-based survey conducted by UN Women, the NCW and Baseera in May 2020, 58 per cent of Egyptian respondents indicated witnessing or knowing a woman who had been exposed to violence since the outbreak of COVID-19. Of these respondents, 37 per cent said they had witnessed or know a woman who had experienced domestic violence by her spouse; 38 per cent said the violence came from a family member, and 42 per cent had experienced online harassment.[1]

The UN Women Egypt Country Office has supported national efforts to ensure the continued provision of essential services to women experience violence during the COVID-19 pandemic– including dedicated quarantine rooms in shelters and operating procedures for shelters to work in a manner which protects clients and front-line responders, and support to national EVAWGprevention and response programmes.[2] This work was made possible through the support of USAID.

Moreover, in late 2020, the UN Women ECO initiated a project with the European Union (EU) entitled “Women’s Empowerment and Financial and Economic Inclusion in Rural Egypt: COVID-19 Response” and within this, included focused support on ending all forms of violence against women and girls as part of UN Women’s Essential Services support. Specifically, the work includes enhancing the capacity of the NCW and its Women’s Complaints Office to provide effective and timely prevention and response services to women survivors of violence. UN Women will engage other stakeholders, including the private sector, to provide psychological support for survivors of violence. UN Women and NCW will also lead advocacy and conduct national awareness-raising initiatives on violence against women and girls.

The three-year EU-funded programme is expected to run from 2020–2022.

[1] UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States. 2020. Rapid Assessment: The Effects of COVID-19 on Violence Against Women and Gendered Social Norms - A Snapshot from Nine Countries in the Arab States.

[2] UN Women Egypt. 2020. “UN Women welcomes unprecedented national efforts to support survivors of sexual assault and harassment.” 15 July.