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17. December 2020

Monika Hauser: Why we need to enhance the rights of women and girls now

Women are the heroes of the Covid-19 crisis. Their work in the healthcare systems and other systemically important sectors has been crucially important for bringing our societies through this crisis. However, the inequality women face has not only become more visible due to the pandemic; it has also become more severe. Five reasons why we need to act now.

Current threats to women’s rights are revealing how important it is to establish strong networks of women's rights organisations which can still function under pressure. This year has clearly demonstrated how medica mondiale and our partner organisations do indeed constitute such a network.

1. Violence against women is increasing.

Early evaluations are showing that in some countries violence against women has increased during the pandemic by up to 40 per cent – and this only includes recorded cases.

2. Gynaecological care provision is deteriorating.

Many women are being denied access to safe pregnancy terminations, and in many places they are even having difficulties with birth control. Furthermore, there is a clear increase in the cases of obstetric problems, which will lead to an increase in still births and maternal mortality.

3. Unpaid care work increasing to record levels.

Around the world, women perform three times more unpaid care work than men. The pandemic has severely increased this imbalance. Far more women than men have had to reduce their hours in paid jobs in order to stay home and take care of children or other relatives. Or they do this in addition to their normal work if this can be done remotely.

4. Women are not included in the decisions.

Although Covid-19-related measures generally lead to more burdens for women, there are far fewer women involved in shaping these decisions. Less than six per cent of heads of government and only one quarter of parliamentarians around the world are female. This lack of a political voice is particularly severe when it comes to black women, women of colour and indigenous women.

5. Crises exacerbate existing injustices.

The pandemic has had particularly severe effects on women and girls in war zones and crisis areas. Curfews and other movement restrictions often make it impossible for them to earn a living. In these times of emergency we can observe drastic increases in discrimination and sexualised violence against women.


Your solidarity makes you an important part of our network. Together we have been able to establish mechanisms that have not only helped to prevent transmission of the virus but also protected women from violence.

This virus is very persistent, but so is the level of attacks on women and their rights. We will remain at the side of women and girls around the world, actively committed to enforcing their rights, in spite of or even especially during this crisis. So thank you for being at our side.

I wish you all a peaceful end to the year. Stay healthy!

Monika Hauser



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Covid-19 and violence against women: preventive measures should go hand in hand

Six months of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic: The achievements of our partner organisations

COVID-19 has particularly drastic impacts on the life of women in crisis regions