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EU committed to tackle surge of gender-based violence during COVID-19

30/09/2020 - 10:23
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The Generation Equality Forum called for immediate response to the emerging evidence that multiple forms of gender-based violence, in particular intimate partner violence, have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU is committed to tackle this problem.

On 29 September Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and Commissioner Helena Dalli took part in a High-Level event organised in the margins of UNGA75 by the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence of the Generation Equality Forum. The EU is one of the leaders of the Gender-Based Violence Action Coalition, which brings together Member states, international organisations, youth representatives and civil society to find innovative ways to stop all forms of violence against women and girls.

Gender-based violence is a women’s human rights violation of pandemic proportions which has been further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 crisis. The endemic nature of gender-based violence against women and girls is rooted in structural gender inequality and discrimination. All forms of violence against women and girls are interconnected and have common root causes.

Violence can take many forms and affect all areas of women’s lives: from the private/family sphere, to the workplace; the public space, including public institutions and online space. The safety of women and girls travelling to and from school or work, their freedom of movement and their right to be free and safe in the city, are fundamental concerns for governments and institutions at all levels.

But violence is preventable, we need to address this shadow pandemic. Multilateralism and strengthened cooperation is needed to respond to this global problem. Interventions must be responsive to the needs and address the vulnerabilities of young women and adolescent girls as well as for those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of, for example, ethnicity, race, class, disability sexual orientation, and gender identity.

During the launch of the Action Coalition, the Generation Equality Forum stressed the urgency of recognising gender-based violence as a global long-standing emergency that should be addressed with the political will, resources, and accountability mechanisms required to respond to other emergencies of this scale.

One of the Action Coalition's missions will be to ensure the implementation of the UN Secretary-General's appeal on gender-based violence and COVID-19. The EU-UN Spotlight initiative, the first global initiative to end violence against women, will be used as a model for future action.

“We the co-leads will work to stop any reversal of the hard-won progress on advancing gender equality and women’s and girl’s empowerment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to ‘build back better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic must have women and girls’ agency at their heart and tackle the longer-term structural and root causes of gender -based violence. Success is recovery from COVID-19 that delivers more gender-equitable, egalitarian, fairer, cleaner, healthier, more inclusive, and more resilient economies and societies, that accelerates progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, leaving no one behind.”

On 1 October 2020 European Commission President von der Leyen addressed the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women, and the Beijing Declaration. Von der Leyen mentioned that one of her priorities during her first days of her mandate was the tabling of the Gender Equality Strategy setting a series of key actions for the European Union for the five years to come.

  • First is prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. A key point of the Beijing Declaration.
  • Second is advancement and empowerment of women. Another key point of the Beijing Declaration.
  • And third is the issue of equal pay.

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