Help Women Most at Risk during COVID-19

Over the 35 years IWDA has existed to advance the rights of women and girls, we have seen first-hand the grim reality of gender inequality: poverty, violence, human rights abuses.

But we’ve never seen anything with the potential for such a devastating impact on women and girls as the COVID-19 global pandemic.

We are working intensely to support women in Asia and the Pacific as they confront this global emergency, but we urgently need your help. This is an emergency unlike anything any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes.

IWDA and our partners in Asia and the Pacific are fighting the catastrophic effects of this crisis on many fronts. We are witnessing an alarming surge in domestic violence cases as millions of women are locked down in unsafe homes. There is also a huge loss of livelihoods as women are more likely to hold jobs in under-regulated industries with low wages and poor protections, such as the garment industry.

This crisis is having devastating impacts on women around the world, including in Asia and the Pacific where we work.

Rise of Violence Against Women

Unfortunately, we know that violence against women increases during major crises and disasters. Increased household and financial pressures, disruptions to daily life and heightened stress can inflame high-risk situations for women experiencing violence. In some countries, the rate of reported domestic violence cases has more than tripled. This is horrifying.

In Bougainville, an Autonomous Region of Papua New Guinea, two in every three women experience violence at the hands of their partners. IWDA’s partner organisation Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation run the only four safe houses in the region.  They are providing life-saving emergency shelter to women and children. They are responding to calls from women in crisis, and liaising with police and hospitals. They are standing by their communities. But they are struggling. They are stretched. They need your help.

An urgent donation today can help provide food and supplies for safe houses to support women and children at a high risk of violence. It can help pay for phone credit so women who are experiencing violence can access counselling on the phone if they are unable to travel to a safe house. It can help support women who choose to relocate out of a safe house to live with their friends or extended family, and help fund the cost of public transport or fuel, which has doubled in some countries. Your donation can help save lives.

 

Loss of Women Workers’ Livelihoods

On top of the increase in domestic violence, the impacts of COVID-19 are also having a devastating economic effect on women and girls, who generally earn less and hold insecure jobs.

Thousands of garment factories have been forced to close, including in Myanmar and Cambodia where our partners work, which means millions of women have lost their livelihoods. Women employed in garment factories are among the most vulnerable workers in the global economy.

IWDA’s partner organisation United Sisterhood Alliance in Cambodia is working hard to support garment workers, who were already enduring horrific working and living conditions before this crisis hit. They are keeping their drop-in centres open so they can provide essential information to garment workers, including critical health information and advice on accessing government support.

While we don’t know when this health emergency will end, we do know that the after-shocks for women and girls will be long and far-reaching. There will be lives to rebuild and rights to reclaim.

Can you help support women most at risk during COVID-19?

IWDA builds strong and sustainable relationships with grassroots, women-led organisations to make the change they drive within their own communities. With the help of our supporters, IWDA is able to work with our partner organisations for the long haul as they navigate the long-term impacts.