Must Reads: #ChallengeAccepted

Must Reads: The Human Rights Council report on what needs to improve in the working world: improvement of women’s human rights. Indrani Goradia, one of Every Woman Treaty’s founding members has a conversation on leadership at Thrive Global. U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for accountability and systemic change for women and girls. The brutal murder of Pinar Gültekin has sparked widespread protests across Turkey and social media. Mexico’s spike in calls for help from survivors of domestic violence proves the necessity to acknowledge the shadow pandemic and more.

  1. Human Rights Council’s report of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls analyzes global trends in the working world through a gendered lens, and how the world can set a vision for the working world to prioritize women’s human rights and change the current economic model. (UN Docs)
  2. Indrani Goradia, one of our founding board members and founder of RAFT, is featured on Thrive Global’s series about individuals and organizations making an important social impact. Indrani talks about how she started her organization, her inspirations, and more. "Leadership means to come to a challenge with a curious mind and ask questions until everyone understands what we are solving and how we will start the process.” (Thrive Global)
  3. Turkey. Women are protesting across the country after Pinar Gültekin, a 27-year old woman was brutally murdered by her former partner. The protests come after a lack of initiative by the government to uphold its commitment to the Istanbul Convention, and rates of femicide doubling since its ratification in 2011. “We are carrying banners for a woman we do not know. It is enough now. We want to live." #ChallengeAccepted (Al Jazeera)
  4. U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave an evocative speech condemning the abuse of women and girls on the House floor after she was called a sexist vulgarity by Representative Ted Yoho in front of reporters. “You can take photos and project an image to the world of being a family man and accost women without remorse and with a sense of impunity. It happens every day in this country. It happened here on the steps of our nation’s Capitol.” (New York Times) MORE: Foreign Policy
  5. Mexico. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Mexico’s largest network of shelters for victims of violence has seen an 80 percent jump in the number of women and children who are seeking help. "COVID awoke situations of violence that were camouflaged, hidden," Figueroa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "During this lockdown, the violence gets stronger."  (Al Jazeera)


Egypt. Two women, Hansen Hossam and Masada Eladhm, were sentenced to two years in prison for “violating family values” by posting content on the famous social media platform, TikTok. Activists have called for the release of women who have been arrested on debauchery charges and for a change to the current laws that put women in jail for their social media activity. (Egyptian Streets)

Nigeria. Experts are calling for a restructured loan system to properly and better support women, who are already put at a disadvantage, by government policies, to be financially and socially stable. The COVID-19 pandemic has made women even more vulnerable to financial hardships and support. Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi noted, “the majority of macro loans were given to men, while women were inadvertently nudged towards owning and running small-scale businesses predominantly.” (The Guardian NG)

Poland. Thousands of people gathered to protest in Warsaw on Saturday after Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland's Minister of Justice, announced that Poland is leaving the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, a treaty made to prevent and combat violence against women. Ziobro accused the convention of "constructing the so-called socio-cultural gender in opposition to biological sex." (CNN)

Tripura, India. Online protests led by students calling for the end of violence against women surged after a series of rapes occurred in the Tripura region. Students demanded capital punishment for the five rapists and for a united front when it comes to combating violence against women and girls. Almost all of the rapists were arrested shortly by authorities upon receiving the complaints. (Indian Express)

Must Reads: Changing Global Systems

Must Reads: a call to end violence against women journalists by UN expert, Dubravka Simonovic. The UN SWOP Report 2020 highlights the pressing need to end the practices that defy women and girls. The Gender Equality Attitudes Study 2019 examined how gender stereotypes across 10 countries affected women’s advancements. How the EU member states failed female survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for embracing gender equality. A new Gender Equality Forum Compact that aims at holding countries accountable to the women, peace and security agenda.

  1. Are you ready for change? Gender Equality Attitudes Study 2019. The UN Women report highlights and compares the scale of gender-based stereotypes across 10 countries (Colombia, India, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, The Philippines, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and United States). The results aim to show policymakers, private sector leaders, and civil society how the prevalence of gender-based stereotypes can harm women’s advancement and worsen gender inequality. (UN Women)
  1. The United Nations State of World Population Report 2020 is an interactive platform highlighting the importance of remaining aware of the dangers of female mutilation, child marriage and son preference - especially in the age of COVID-19. “The practices reduce and limit their capacity to participate fully in society and to reach their full potential.” (United Nations Population Fund)
  1. Dubravka Šimonović, UN expert on violence against women, says, “Women journalists have become increasingly targeted as visible and outspoken representatives of women’s rights [...] journalists face even higher levels of discrimination if they are not only women, but also indigenous, from a minority, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex.” (UN News)
  1. Maria Luísa Moreira, a MSc candidate and communications assistant at the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security, writes about how the denial of structural gender inequalities in EU member states has put domestic abuse cases at alarmingly high rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how there needs to be action taken to protect those who are in danger. (London School of Economics)
  1. The Generation Equality Forum is developing a new Compact for women, peace and security and humanitarian action. The Compact aims at pushing member states and fellow actors who are allies of the Beijing Platform and UNSCR 1325 to “enhance the implementation of financial and political commitments and responsibilities on women, peace and security and humanitarian action.” (Gender Equality Forum)


Gender Action for Peace and Security UK’s shadow report examines how the UK government has and could have taken action on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in 2019. “In this important anniversary year of UNSCR 1325, we hope that Governments and donors globally, including the UK, will commit to implementing the agenda in full to ensure that the rights, needs and experiences of women and girls are met – and that women and girls can participate in the decisions that affect their lives.” (GAPS UK)

The Human Rights Council held the first panel on the annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women and girls on accountability for women and girls in humanitarian settings. Tatiana Mukanire, National Coordinator for the National Network of Survivors of Sexual Violence (DRC), said “that some people still believed that rape did not exist or that it was not so serious -- this was absurd and revolting! Rape and sexual violence were the most humiliating way to kill a person while letting them breathe.” (OHCHR)


TUNE IN: Digital Dialogue Series: A Conversation on National Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence on July 21st, 2020 at 11AM EST. This event celebrates the launch of a Special Issue of the Journal of International Criminal Justice on Progress and Challenges of National Efforts to Address Impunity for Sexual Violence.

  • This series is hosted by the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict and Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at the Institute for Public Health.
  • Karen Naimer, Director of Programs at Physicians for Human Rights, will be a guest panelist speaking about How traditional jurisdictions embrace renewed accountability demands - in DRC, along with others.
  • For more details and registration:

SUBMIT: Building the Evidence on Protracted Forced Displacement: A Multi-Stakeholder Partnership, a joint research program developed by the World Bank, UNHCR and the UK Government’s Department for International Development is calling for research proposals on the theme ofPreventing social conflict and promoting social cohesion in forced displacement contexts”.

  • Submissions are due by July 30th, 2020. Apply here.
  • For more information, visit: World Bank.


Must Reads: Exploring the Female Perception of VAWG

Tunisian women continuing their fight for true gender equality and exploring the female perception of violence against women and girls through film. A report covering how COVID-19 has impacted the rates of violence against women and girls in Morocco. The tragic death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen, and the call for systemic change in the U.S. military towards sexual assault cases. How the COVID-19 pandemic can trigger survivors of sexual violence and how understanding the pandemic’s impact and trauma can lead survivors to a path of holistic healing and empowerment.

  1. Morocco. Mobilizing For Rights Associates just released a comprehensive report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Violence against Women in Morocco. The report covers research developed from 16 NGOs, and explores “emerging forms of violence, the impact of confinement on women, transformations of NGO services offered to women, the public actor responses to such violence during the state of health emergency, and proposals for legal reforms and effective measures to combat such violence during a pandemic.” (MRA)
  2. Jane D. Tchaïcha and Khedija Arfaoui explore the female perception of violence against women in a post-revolutionary Tunisia through a year-long study of evaluating women’s responses to viewing the Tunisian film, The Beauty and the Dogs, a film about a woman raped by several policemen and has to decide whether to stay silent or report their crimes. (Mediterranean Knowledge)
  3. Vanessa Guillen’s, a 20-year old soldier from Fort Hood, Texas, remains were found at the end of June, months after her disappearance. Her family pushed for an investigation back in April after her sudden disappearance from base when her belongings were left in the last place she was seen. Concerns grew as Guillen had also voiced to her family that she had been sexually assaulted in the past. (NY Times)
  4. The International Labour Organization (ILO) warns that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a negative effect on gender equality norms in workplaces. “The report said women were being especially hard hit by the crisis because they were over-represented in some of the economic sectors worst affected by the crisis, such as accommodation, food, sales and manufacturing. Globally, almost 510 million or 40% of all employed women work in the four most affected sectors, compared with 36.6% of men.” These sectors also include domestic care, social and healthcare which has also been hard-hit by the pandemic. (The Guardian)
  5. Molly Boeder Harris, Founder and Executive Director of The Breathe Network, writes about the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic can trigger survivors of sexual violence - physically, mentally and emotionally - and the ways that survivors and their supporters can use empowering methods to  help understand their body’s responses to trauma and heal. (Medium)

More to Read: 

Khedija Arfaoui, an independent human rights researcher, explores the advances and setbacks that Tunisian women have endured in their fight for gender equality. From education to their activism against sexual harassment, Tunisian women have not stopped their fight for true equality. “Discrimination has persisted in Tunisia and it seems the freedoms granted to women were mostly implemented in order to improve the country’s reputation in the West.” (Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy)

Must Reads: Rates of Violence Against Women and Girls Continue to Rise Amid Pandemic

In this week’s Must Readsexploring the methods of gathering true and accurate data on domestic violence in South Africa, Save the Children and their efforts in combatting the rise of sexual violence cases in Venezuela, HRW report finds that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to face interpersonal violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, how a group of men are helping to end femicide and VAWG in Mexico3 women who fleed Boko Haram now face jail time and charges in suspicion of being a part of the terrorist group and more.

  1. South Africa. Are we collecting the right amount of data during the COVID-19 pandemic to tell us the whole story on the rates of violence against women in households? “Rigorous studies on the impact of pandemics on levels of violence against women and children are scarce. It’s difficult to ensure the safety of women who are asked to respond to questions about their experiences of abuse, so the accuracy of the information gathered is likely to be questionable.” (Relief Web)
  2. Venezuela. Rates of violence against women and children in their households are spiking in Venezuela, a state already facing a destroyed economy and social crisis. Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization aimed at improving the lives of children worldwide and providing resources to countries hit by devastating emergencies, has reported that “the majority of cases concern sexual violence against children, and psychological and physical violence against women by their partners.” (Vatican News)
  3. Human Rights Campaign report finds that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to face interpersonal violence, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “To address the high rate of interpersonal violence in the LGBTQ community, which research shows is likely to increase during COVID-19, HRC is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 and reauthorized by strong bipartisan majorities in 2000, 2005, and 2013.” (Human Rights Campaign)
  4. A group of men who want to end femicide rates and violence against women in Mexico. Arturo Reyes, a psychologist and staff member of Gendes, an organization made to help men stop the campaign of violence against women, has seen the spike in calls for support during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Deutsche Welle)
  5. After crossing the border to Nigeria in 2014, in hopes of a better life, three women from Cameroon decided to go back in search of safety during the height of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Now, they are in limbo, having served over 5 years in jail for being members of the militant group that they tried to escape from. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time," explains Marie-Lina Samuel, Africa Project Coordinator at the organisation ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty).” (RFI)


Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, a gynecologist who works at The Women at Risk International Foundation, a rape crisis center in Lagos, Nigeria, talks on the concerning rates of rape and violence against women in Nigeria and the difficulties that women and girls face as they have to shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive forms of a human rights violation and should be recognized by all countries," DaSilva-Ibru said.” (CNN)

Damboa. Ten Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents near Damboa, a town in Nigeria’s Borno State. (Sahara Reporters)

Jihadists in NE Nigeria kill 11, others missing. (Ahram Online)

Rape as another pandemic (Guardian NG)

Must Reads: Demanding Systems Change for Women and Girls

In this week’s Must Reads: South African activists and women are calling for an end to domestic violence after three women are found dead. Amina Mohammed addresses boys and men to be a part of ending violence against women and girls in their homes and communities. Protests grow as a 5-year old girl is raped and murdered in Sierra Leone and uncertainty lies for her justice. UN Peacekeeping examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has seen exacerbated rates of domestic and sexual violence in conflict-ridden zones. Twitter developing a resource system for domestic abuse survivors in Asia and the Pacific.

  1. South Africa. 3 women killed in South Africa, highlighting the other pandemic that the country has faced: femicide and domestic violence. Women rights activists and officials are calling for greater transparency and accountability throughout all tiers of society, in order to combat domestic violence. (CNN)
  2. UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, calls on men and boys to stop violence against women and girls, especially with the surges of abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Men and boys — I am talking to you:  This is on you. Take responsibility. Speak up. Stand with women and girls.” (UN News)
  3. Examining the actions of human evil, dive into the behavioral elements of the mass shooter responsible for Nova Scotia’s mass shootings back in April and how his abuses towards his female partner prior to the shooting were warning signs to his atrocious acts. “It needs to acknowledge there are those who live, work, play, and volunteer among us who intentionally commit acts of human evil within relationships and within communities.” (The Nova Scotia Advocate)
  4. A 5-year old girl, Kadija, was raped and murdered in Sierra Leone. Hundreds protested in hopes for gaining justice for Kadija and creating lasting change in regards to how Sierra Leone handles sexual abuse cases and holds perpetrators accountable in its judicial system. (Amnesty International)
  5. UN Peacekeeping on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and seen rises in conflict related sexual violence across the world. Lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions on overall activity has limited safe access and support for survivors of sexual violence - especially those in conflict zones. While practicing safe public health measures, it's also vital to make sure that those in vulnerable and conflict-ridden places are moved into safer spaces. (Medium)

Additional Reading: 

  • Twitter partners up with UN Women to create access to helpline services on the platform for domestic abuse survivors in Asia and the Pacific, due to surges of domestic abuse cases and lack of resources during this time. “As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are being prolonged by countries around the world to contain the spread of COVID-19, women with violent partners increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them. Connecting women who are feeling fearful or in danger is critical for their safety.” (UN Women)


  • WATCH: New York Times journalist, Farnaz Fassihi, and women’s rights activist, Gabriela Jauregui, discuss the shadow pandemic of domestic violence and the spike in cases specifically in Iran and Mexico. (CNN)
  • Thursdays in Black Toolkit: Resources compiled by the World Council of Churches to raise awareness about gender-based violences and how you can help through action, education and prayer! (World Council of Churches)
  • TUNE IN: The 1st Annual Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association's Global Cyber Peace Conference this Saturday, June 27th, 2020! This event will be a dynamic and interactive online experience featuring speakers and attendees from around the globe working collaboratively together from their own homes. The year’s theme is “Envisioning the World after The Great Pause”. More information on the event and registration: Rotary Peace Fellowship. Use this link to confirm what time sessions are in your location:
    • Registration is free with this code: ACCESSPEACE
    • Indrani Goradia, founder of RAFT, which provides training to advocates in sexual and domestic violence shelters, will be a speaker during the Opening Plenary Session on Saturday @ 8:45AM EDT. Her topic is: Inspirational Storytelling.

Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, our founding Steering Committee Co-Chair, will be a speaker in the Gender and Peace Session @ 11:30 am CET to 1:00 pm CET. Her topic is: Women Peace and Security in the Context of the Boko Haram Conflict (Envisioning the future). Additional speakers in this session include: Dr. Louise Olsson, Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the PRIO, and more. For additional information and registration, visit:

Must Reads and an Invitation

In this week's Must Reads: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. Rights activists in Kenya have raised alarm after indications that gender-based-violence may be on the rise with restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus. Domestic violence assault followed by arson and mass shooting by perpetrator disguised as a RCMP officer in Nova Scotia. UK Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Women mobilize to prevent COVID-19 in crowded Rohingya refugee campsCEDAW Call for ContributionsInvitation to join Every Woman Treaty on May 11, 2020 via Zoom. 

1. Rafia Zakaria: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. "The transformation we ultimately need as a society is (to get to a place) where it does not occur to men that they have the right or desire to harm women." (CNN)

2. Kenya: Agnes Odhiambo, a researcher on sub-Saharan Africa with the women's rights division of Human Rights Watch, "Now this is the situation that COVID has created where people are behind closed doors, there is no money. It’s a perfect environment for people who are abusive to even be more abusive or even for those who are usually not abusive to become abusive because of that stress, where they feel they need to exert their dominance in an environment where they are feeling kind of emasculated.” (VOA)

3. Victim of domestic violence aids police in Nova Scotia.  Following a domestic violence incident, a woman somehow escaped and emerged from hiding at daybreak. She called 911 and informed the police the perptrator was in possession of a fully marked and equipped replica RCMP vehicle and was wearing an RCMP uniform. The perpetrator set multiple homes and buildings on fire, and targeted more than 20 people in a shooting spree. (National Post)

Related: Women face particular challenges due to gun access, as women are five times more likely to be killed if their partner owns a gun. Despite such danger, the US recently watered down the definition of domestic violence to include only physical harm at the level of a felony, excluding psychological abuse, coercion, and manipulation. (Mediators Without Borders)

4. United Kingdom: Boots Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Many victims who are now unable to seek help while at home trapped with their abusers will still be expected to shop for food and medicine, and there have been calls for safe space initiatives to be introduced in supermarkets and more pharmacies. Multiple support services for domestic abuse have reported a surge in calls to helplines since the lockdown was imposed, while the Metropolitan police said it was making an average of about 100 arrests a day for offences linked to abuse in the home. (The Guardian)

5. Bangladesh: To counter the gendered risks and barriers for women and girls in Cox’s Bazar, Rohingya women leaders self-mobilized, forming networks and raising awareness on COVID-19 across all camps. The rise in domestic violence and other forms of violence against women as a result of social tensions and panic in the camps is another key concern for these women. Global estimates show that in crisis settings, more than 70 percent of women experience gender-based violence. (UN Women)


  •  Call for Contributions: The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is currently elaborating a General Recommendation on trafficking of women and girls in the  context of global migration. The Committee decided to invite all interested parties to submit contributions in writing for the "Draft General Recommendation on TWGCGM".After a thorough and due consideration of contributions provided, only the Committee will decide on the contents of the final version of the General Recommendation on Trafficking of Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration. (UN OHCHR)


  • InvitationJoin us online May 11, 2020 via Zoom at 1:00PM EDT / GMT -4). We will be discussing our global week of solidarity with survivors around the world inspired by Mexican artist Elina Chauvet's Red Shoes protest beginning on June 4, 2020. In 2009, Chauvet staged her first art installation of red shoes - representing the bloodshed women face in Mexico because of femicide, domestic, and sexualized violence. Her installations have inspired activists around the world  - join us to hear a special message from Elina Chauvet and take a stand in solidarity. (Every Woman Treaty)

  • The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have adverse and disproportionate effects on women and girls around the world, particularly in the rise of gender-based violence. CARE is working to prevent and respond to this issue in 24 countries. “We know that when emergencies hit, women and girls come last,” says CARE’s Humanitarian Policy Director Susannah Friedman. (CARE)

  • “A Difficult Client”: Lynn’s Story of Captivity, Non-State Torture, and Human Trafficking by Her Husband. (International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research)

  • Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima to receive 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Born in 1974, Jineth Bedoya Lima’s reporting has focused on the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and on sexual violence against women. Ms Bedoya Lima was herself a victim of sexual violence in 2000 when she was abducted and raped in connection with an investigation into arms trafficking she was conducting for daily newspaper El Espectador. Three years later, while working for the daily El Tiempo, she was kidnapped by militants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

    “The courage and commitment of Jineth Bedoya Lima, doubly exposed to unacceptable risks as a woman and as a journalist, inspire profound respect,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “We need the work of professional and independent journalists.”

    “The present pandemic highlights the vital role journalists play in providing all of us with access to reliable, in some cases vital, information in crises situations,” Ms. Azoulay added. “It also shows the many risks journalists face everywhere in the world in the exercise of their profession.” (UNESCO)

  • Nobel Women: Tune in Monday, May 4th at 11 am ET  for a Facebook Live conversation with outgoing UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, to talk risks and challenges faced by women human rights defenders and how the global community can act to protect them.
  • Listen: FiLiA Podcast with Simi Kamal. Simi Kamal is head of grants at the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund. Simi joins FiLiA to discuss her experience and work as part of the Every Woman Treaty - a campaign to end violence against women and girls worldwide. (FiLiA)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Must Reads: As Helplines are Flooded with Calls, Governments Respond to Spike in Violence Against Women and Girls

In this week's Must Reads: Five ways governments are responding to violence against women and children during COVID-19 from UNICEF. In lockdown Bolivia, calls from abused girls flood hotline. Ethiopia's missing students, Families' pain and the unsolved mystery. The danger of Covid-19 for refugees: Concerns mount as displaced populations are particularly vulnerable. UK Home Secretary insists there is support available for at-risk women as charities report massive increase in calls. More must reads include harrowing reports from India and Mexico.

1. Since the coronavirus lockdown began in Bolivia, Brisa De Angulo's charity for sexually abused children has received hundreds of telephone calls from girls trapped in homes with their abusers. "The risk has increased exponentially. Now children are 24/7 with their aggressors." Her charity, Breeze of Hope, provides free legal and psychological help to thousands of child victims in Bolivia's central city of Cochabamba. (Thomson Reuters)

2. Ethiopia: "We are grieving. I can't stop thinking about her. The entire family can't eat," a visibly pained Mare Abebe told the BBC. She is worried about Belaynesh Mekonnen, a first-year economics student at Ethiopia's Dembi Dolo University, who was kidnapped last December, along with 17 of her colleagues. (BBC)

3. UNICEF: Reports have warned of the “perfect storm”, manifesting in increased calls to helplines, online support services, and police reports. Multinational organisations quickly took action, issuing statements warning of increased risk of both forms of violence, while researchers reviewed evidence from past crises, proposing policy actions to mitigate against potential harm to populations in situations of vulnerability. Family PoliciesChildcare (UNICEF)

4. International Rescue Committee: Displaced populations are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of the coronaviru. David Miliband, President and CEO, told the New Yorker, "Covid-19 is a disease of the connected world, where all of us are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, where the only solution has got to be a universal solution." (New Yorker)

5. United Kingdom: The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day, while a separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse seeking help to change their behaviour received 25% more calls after the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. (The Guardian)


  • Ashwini Deshpande: In locked down India, women fight coronavirus and domestic violence. The stories seem to follow a script. Countries declare lockdown, and within 10 days, calls to helplines see a spike. Women call in distress because they or their children are being abused at home, with or without physical violence. (Quartz)
  • Beyond the Coronavirus: In Mexico,  the new sororidad is no longer interested in securing a stronger role for women in Mexican society; it’s gunning for a louder, more radical feminism, pulling up the roots of the old system — which it claims innately dehumanizes women — as it nurtures a new one. Its first demand is radical enough: “Stop killing us.” (Women's Media Center)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty with a reply to this email, or contact me directly at [email protected]

Must Reads: UN and WHO Spotlight Domestic Violence Amid Lockdowns

In this week's Must Reads: Leaders from the United Nations and the World Health Organization address the impact of Covid-19 and the disproportionate impact on women and girls. South Africa addresses 87,000 incidents of gender based violence reported during the 21 day Covid-19 lockdown. In Saudi Arabia, "Women are carrying the double burden of fighting the spread of virus infections and attacks by perpetrators of gender-based violence.” Kenya responds to the spike in sexualized and gender based violence, including the kidnap and rape of a 16 year old girl. She was rescued by neighbors and is now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi. The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed female company to get through the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown

  1. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres releases policy brief: The Impact of Covid-19 on Women. "Nearly one in five women worldwide has experienced violence in the past year.  Many of these women are now trapped at home with their abusers, struggling to access services that are suffering from cuts and restrictions. “This was the basis for my appeal to governments earlier this week to take urgent steps to protect women and expand support services.” (UN)
  2. World Health Organization: "We call on countries to include services to #EndViolence as an essential service that must continue during the response. There is never any excuse for violence.” (WHO)
  3. South Africa:87,000 incidents of gender-based violence reported in South Africa since the 21-day national lockdown. Mkhize expressed anger and disappointment in the “toxic patriarchal mindset” which seemed unstoppable despite the nation walking in the shadow of “deadly disaster. Women are carrying the double burden of fighting the spread of virus infections and attacks by perpetrators of gender-based violence.” Mkhize urged those who felt victimised to contact the police on their Crime Stop number 0860-10111. (The Editor)
  4. Saudi Arabia:Victim-blaming in Saudi deters sexual and domestic violence victims from reporting their cases. "I reported it and the police came to convince me to drop the charges while my abuser sat with them," wrote a Twitter user by the name of Catolina.” (Thomson Reuters)
  5. Kenya:For four days, Juliet M., a 16-year-old Kenyan, was held captive by a man and sexually assaulted. She was rescued by neighbors and is now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi. The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed female company to get through the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown.The government has adopted strict measures to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But these measures, as necessary as they are, are having particular impact on women and girls, including elevating the risk of gender-based violence. Last week, the National Council on Administration of Justice reported “a significant spike in sexual offences in many parts of the country in the past two weeks.” (HRW)


  • From Melinda Gates: "Inevitably, some people will argue that we should table conversations about gender equality until we get through this emergency. But the disease and its affects are not gender neutral. Our response cannot be either." (USA Today)
  • Afghanistan: The all-female robotics team made a cheap ventilator out of Toyota parts, joining the fight against Covid-19. The governor of Herat put out a public plea for more ventilators, five young women answered the call.
  • This team consists of five Dreamers aged between 14 and 17; captain Somaya Faruqi, Dyana Wahbzadeh, Folernace Poya, Ellaham Mansori and Nahid Rahimi. They are currently working with two prototypes. One is a gear-based system based on a design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. The other uses parts from a Toyota Corolla. (The National)
  • UNFPA issues guidance on COVID-19. Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers. 
  • Download: English  Spanish  French  Arabic  Turkish  Portuguese  Russian  Tajik
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty with a reply to this email, or contact me directly at [email protected] 

Must Reads: No Place to Hide

In this week's Must Reads: Amid lockdowns, shutdowns, curfews, and social distancing, there is a rise in reported cases of sexualized violenceIn the UK, "It's a perfect storm," Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of British charity SafeLives. Reports of domestic abuse have spiked by about 30% since France went into lockdown in mid-March. In Pakistan, between 70 to 90 percent of women experience some form of physical, emotional or psychological abuse— mostly from an intimate partner.

1. "Lockdowns will lead to a surge in domestic abuse, but also severely limit the ability of services to help." As the United Kingdom shut down, charities urged employers, bank staff, healthworkers and neighbours to be extra vigilant, adding that even a note dropped in a grocery bag could be a lifeline for a woman trapped with an abusive partner. (Thomson Reuters)

2. Reports of domestic abuse have spiked by about 30% since France went into lockdown in mid-March. French officials set up an “alert system” in pharmacies nationwide, where victims of domestic abuse could discreetly ask the pharmacist to call police by asking for a “mask 19.” The initiative mimics a scheme set up in Spain’s Canary Islands that uses the same code word. (Vice)

3. France announced that it will pay for 20,000 nights in hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence and open pop-up counseling centers at supermarkets. There are worrying reports from other countries, too. "There has always been gender violence, but this crisis makes it all worse," said Simona Ammerata, who works at the Lucha y Siesta women's shelter in Rome, Italy. (CNN)

4. "For decades, critically important public programs and structures have been starved of funding, and efforts to ensure that women have adequate income, health care, worker protections, support for caregivers, nutrition and housing assistance have been met with relentless resistance," said Fatima Goss Graves, head of the National Women's Law Center, in a statement to CBS News on Tuesday. "Those efforts have placed women and their families at unconscionable risk from the COVID-19 crisis." (CBS)

5. In Pakistan, the most-cited estimate says between 70 to 90 percent of women experience some form of physical, emotional or psychological abuse— mostly from an intimate partner. Acts of physical violence in marital relationships are almost always accompanied by psychological abuse, and in thirty to fifty percent of cases, it is also accompanied by sexual abuse. Such abuse is typically part of an on-going pattern of patriarchal control, rather than an isolated act of physical aggression. (DAWN)


  • From Indrani Goradia on Thrive Global. In her piece No Place to Hide,  she notes: "This Coronavirus pandemic is forcing closures of schools and workplaces. As I began to do my work in the gender violence space, I realized that victims have the same fears about being at home with a raging abuser. When the abuser is at home, violence occurs. When the abuser is at work, the victim gets a respite, either because they (victims) go to work themselves or because they(victims) are at home alone."When we add the ongoing pandemic of violence to women, it is easy to see that there will be more pain for women who are being forced to spend time at home."


  • Podcast with Indrani Goradia: Pandemic Inside a Pandemic. Listen on Our Voices Matter.

  • Coronavirus lockdown in India: Vimlesh Solanki, a volunteer for a Sambhali Trust, an organisation that supports women in Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan, says coronavirus has put women in danger. "Stressful situations like this means that there are more things that trigger their already abusive partners." (BBC)

  • Here’s What Women’s Rights Lawyers Want You To Know About Supporting Working Women During COVID-19. (Refinery29)

  • UNFPA issues guidance on COVID-19. Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers. 

    Download: English  Spanish  French  Arabic  Turkish  Portuguese  Russian  Tajik

  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty via email at [email protected]