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07. September 2020

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

For more than half a year the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus has been spreading around the world. Women and girls in crisis areas face particularly severe threats from the virus. In this update you can find out how our partner organisations worldwide are dealing with the new situation, what measures they are taking to deal with the pandemic, and how they continue to work towards women’s rights under the current conditions.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the Democratic Republic of the Congo particularly hard. To prevent the spread of the disease, the government ordered a lockdown which lasted 68 days and robbed many people of their economic basis. The pandemic has fostered widespread hunger, violence and uncertainty. So our partner organisation PAIF took it upon themselves to carry out public awareness work. Their experiences during the last Ebola pandemic enabled our colleagues to develop information campaigns on the risks and prevention of Covid-19. Furthermore, they are distributing food to help counter the looming food security disaster.

Sierra Leone

Like the DR Congo, Sierra Leone also previously had to cope with Ebola virus, so our local partners from the organisation Girl2Girl could draw on insights and tactics from those outbreaks to help deal with and mitigate the transmission of the new coronavirus. In safe spaces they inform and educate girls about Covid-19 and its consequences, dispel rumours and worries, and teach preventive measures. These girls are then able to pass on their new knowledge to their families and communities, helping to inform as many people as possible. In addition to these measures, Girl2Girl also continue to carry out sex education work and implement measures to enhance financial independence among women.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Our partner organisation SEKA in Bosnia and Herzegovina offers psychosocial counselling and support for women who experienced sexualised violence during the Bosnian War. The current pandemic has led to a two-month lockdown, a rise in domestic violence and existential concerns about how their family can survive: all of this is re-activating old trauma for many of the women. So SEKA have turned to online messaging, video calls and a telephone hotline to ensure they can continue to offer their counselling services. Additionally, they are distributing hygiene materials and food parcels, as well as providing support to victims of domestic violence.

Iraq

Lockdowns were also a measure which Iraq turned to as a reaction to the threats posed by the novel coronavirus. However, this prevented many women from working and earning, so the distribution of basic foodstuffs and hygiene materials was also a measure deemed necessary by our partner organisation in northern Iraq, EMMA, alongside their work to raise awareness of preventive measures. A particular concern of EMMA during this work is to support the refugees and other displaced people in the region, who are often living in precarious conditions in numerous camps. Furthermore, our colleagues continue their political advocacy and campaigning work, highlighting the issues of gender-based violence and problematic gender roles during the Covid-19 crisis.

Liberia

The first months of the Covid-19 pandemic were already very busy for medica Liberia. Posters and flyers, megaphones and radio interviews are just some of the means by which our colleagues informed the public about the risks of the coronavirus and the preventive measures. For this, and for the distribution of hygiene materials, they received extra funding from the donations we received for our Covid-19 emergency fund. Furthermore, medica Liberia continues to serve as a point of contact for women affected by sexualised violence and to campaign for an end to gender-specific violence. At a political level, the activists are calling for more public awareness work about the new virus, an aid package for the economy and immediate relief measures for the population.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The two-month lockdown from the end of March deprived many families of their income and led to a rise in domestic violence against women. Our partners from Medica Afghanistan are currently only able to carry out their psychological and legal counselling work via an emergency hotline. The coronavirus crisis is also reinforcing existing stark inequalities between the genders. One example is the reason for the extra efforts Medica Afghanistan is making on behalf of imprisoned women. Their circumstances often expose them to an increased risk of infection, whereas more than 14,000 male prisoners were released on bail as a measure to mitigate the proliferation of the virus in prisons. These included Taliban fighters.

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