International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
25 November 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all. It has devastated economies, isolated communities and sent governments into overdrive. However, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionately hit some communities more than others. Although we have all faced the same storm that has been COVID-19 this year, we have ridden the waves of this pandemic in different boats.
Unfortunately, women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to their prevalence in COVID facing roles within the health and care provision workforces. People with disabilities are another group that have been hit hard by the crisis. It is becoming increasingly evident that the gender and disability based inequalities that persisted in society before the COVID-19 pandemic are being further exacerbated as this global health crisis unravels. Those who experience intersecting forms of discrimination, including women and girls with disabilities have been particularly marginalised during COVID-19.
COVID-19 exacerbates violence and inequalities
Violence against women and girls has been exacerbated in 2020 as concerns grow about economic stability, security of work and how to provide care amidst lockdown. These challenges have been compounded by families living in isolation, resulting in women and girls who experience domestic violence being cut off from safe spaces and support services.
The rise in violence is particularly worrying for women and girls with deafblindness who frequently depend upon an interpreter to assist them with their communication. Despite providing training and support, interpreters can be perpetrators of violence. Should this happen, it leaves people with deafblindness with little or no means to communicate the violation and to seek help. Furthermore, girls with deafblindness are more likely to be excluded from education than their peers without disabilities as the system fails to provide the support required by children with deafblindness to learn. This exclusion from education denies girls with the opportunity to learn about their rights, life skills and personal safety, thus making them more vulnerable to the risk of violence.
Safeguarding training – one way we are working to ensure women and girls with complex disabilities are safe
Sense International is committed to ensuring all people with deafblindness can enjoy their right to safety and a life free from violence. In a vocational training project that is supported by Vet toolbox, a European Union supported initiative, we have been working to train tutors and management staff at vocational training centres across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to increase knowledge about safeguarding and to strengthen the centres’ response to safeguarding incidences. In Kenya, we have distributed computer tablets to youth with complex disabilities so they can learn about safeguarding and how to report incidences. These portable tablets mean young people can continue to learn at home if centres are closed due to lockdown restrictions.
By strengthening the capacity of vocational training centre staff in relation to safeguarding we anticipate that centres will become safer and more inclusive places for learning. Furthermore, by increasing access to information we are empowering young people with knowledge of their human rights and with the know-how of how to report cases of violence. We are committed to ensuring that cases of violence are reported and responded to and that violence is prevented so we can all live in a safer world.
The global pause brought on by COVID-19 provides us with an opportunity to create a more equitable world as we emerge from this pandemic. However, with so many priorities fighting for our attention we must endeavour to ensure violence against women and girls with disabilities does not slide off the radar.
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First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019