In this week’s Must Reads: Coronavirus lockdowns create unique risks for women subjected to violence as policymakers and service organizations build capacity to respond. Women make up 70 percent of workers in the health and social sector, and they do three times as much unpaid care work at home as men. Nurses in Australia experience attacks from citizens. In Spain, criminal law reform efforts see some success: all nonconsensual sex will be defined as rape and perpetrators will face tougher sentences.

1. Amid efforts to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, policymakers must not lose sight of the vulnerabilities of women and girls, which have been exacerbated by the crisis, says a UNFPA guidance note released on March 19, 2020: “Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently,” says the new UNFPA guidance document, which covers how gender is playing a role in the unfolding pandemic. “Pandemics make existing gender inequalities for women and girls worse, and can impact how they receive treatment and care.” (UNFPA)

2. As millions stay home to help flatten the curve, domestic violence organizations and support systems are scrambling to adapt to the rapidly shifting landscape. Spending days, weeks or even months in the presence of an abusive partner escalates already dangerous situations. The lives of people stuck in physically or emotionally abusive relationships have — and will — become harder, which has already been seen in the pandemic hotspots of China and Italy. (New York Times)

3. The very conditions that are needed to battle the disease—isolation, social distancing, restrictions on freedom of movement—are the very conditions that feed into the hands of abusers who now find state-sanctioned circumstances tailor-made for unleashing abuse. (ReliefWeb)

4. Nurses in some hospitals are reportedly being urged to remove their scrubs before leaving hospital after a female healthcare worker was attacked and accused of spreading the novel coronavirus. The Nursing and Midwifery Federation says it has begun to see reports of aggression towards nurses as the pandemic escalates. (Yahoo! Australia)

5. Spain to toughen law against sexual violence: All non-consensual sex will be regarded as rape, with tougher sentences available to judges. Calls to reform the criminal law concerning sexual offences have been mounting after a series of high-profile trials, including the so-called “Wolf Pack” case, in which an 18-year-old woman was gang-raped during the Pamplona bull-running festival in 2016. (Al Jazeera)



  • Roughly 70% of the global health-care workforce is made up of women, according to an analysis of 104 countries conducted by the World Health Organization. In the Hubei province of China, where the virus originated, more than 90% of health-care workers are women. (CNBC)


  • Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice releases progress research report on: Investing in Equity: Creating Equitable Funding for Local Women PeacebuildersThe IPJ conducted this research in partnership with its 2019 Women Peacemaker Fellows and five international peace funders (USAID, UKFCO, UN Women, Global Affairs Canada, and Search for Common Ground).

  • Domestic violence is the biggest source of injury for women in Nepal with half the women in a recent survey saying they had experienced some form of violence. (Nepali Times)

  • During crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, women make essential contributions as leaders and frontline responders. But they are also hit harder by the health, economic and social impacts of the outbreak. Watch video: English | French | Spanish (UN Women)

    Watch video: English | French | Spanish

  • 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)
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