To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the accuracy of reports that the covid-19 pandemic is causing a rise in gender-based violence throughout the world; and what steps her Department is taking to support women and girls in vulnerable communities facing a heightened risk of gender-based violence.
There is compelling evidence of a surge in violence against women and girls (VAWG) during the COVID-19 outbreak, which is deeply concerning. We know from our humanitarian work the importance of taking a ‘no regrets’ approach: we should assume VAWG is occurring and take action to prevent and respond to it as a lifesaving measure from the earliest stages of the response.
DFID is working across the UK government and with global partners to prevent violence and ensure women and girls have access to vital services. We have provided £10 million of UK aid to UNFPA and £20 million to UNICEF to scale up protection and support services for women and girls. We have contributed £20 million of UK aid to UNHCR’s COVID-19 response for refugees and internally displaced people. This response includes support for essential VAWG and child protection services. We launched a call for proposals under our Rapid Response Facility, which required all projects to mainstream gender, protection and safeguarding. We are also urgently reorienting existing bilateral programmes to ensure women and girls can continue to access support during the lockdown. In Nepal, for example, the UK has financed 14 Women’s and Children Service Centres and 62 One Stop Crisis Centres.