Pandemic response must address gender-based violence, say faith-based groups

      Comments Off on Pandemic response must address gender-based violence, say faith-based groups


 Lockdowns imposed by governments worldwide to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have forced women “to stay at homes where they are not safe or secure,” according to faith-based groups. Photo: Eric Ward/Unsplash


Covid-19 responses of governments and civil society should include strategies to address and prevent sexual and gender-based violence, said a statement issued by a global collective of religious groups and faith-based networks. 


The Faith in Beijing Collective, which includes some members of ACT Alliance (of which WACC Global is a member), called for responses that protect women’s rights and promote gender equality during the pandemic.   The group aims to “strengthen partnerships and amplify a strong faith voice for gender justice,” as called for by the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of that landmark declaration.  


The coronavirus crisis “does not operate in a vacuum and, as a result, the pandemic is increasing pre-existing gender inequalities,” the Collective said. Around the world, gender roles have a marked impact on exposure, transmission, and outcome patterns of COVID-19. Women and girls are experiencing intersecting injustices in political, social and economic spheres.”  


The group noted that lockdowns imposed by governments worldwide have forced women “to stay at homes where they are not safe or secure.” In some communities, “violence against women during the pandemic has been perpetrated by the security agencies enforcing the lockdown, using undue force,” it added.  


Religious institutions have a critical role to play in distributing accurate public health information about Covid-19 and in “promoting messages of gender justice, challenging stigma and harmful gender norms,” the group said.  

With most countries at a standstill due to the pandemic, we have an opportunity to reflect upon the brokenness in our world and our economic system,” the group added.  In these spaces, we can begin to imagine a world rooted in equality and justice for all. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how globally interconnected we are and how gender injustice reveals itself at an individual and a collective level. 

Faith-based groups that have signed the Faith in Beijing Collective statement include the Church of Sweden, Anglican Communion, Association of Presbyterian Women Aotearoa New Zealand, Christian Aid, DanChurch Aid, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Side by Side: Faith movement for gender justice, United Society of Partners in the Gospel, the Girls’ Brigade International, We Will Speak Out South Africa, and the World Council of Churches.