Honoring Mothers and Mother Figures


In this week’s Must Reads: Invitation to Every Woman Virtual Event. Pregnancy Resource Hub from Every Mother Counts. New UNFPA projections predict calamitous impact on women’s health as COVID-19 pandemic continues. In Mexico, three sisters – two nurses and a hospital administrator – are found murderedYoung mother from Navajo Nation dies from COVID-19 after organizing safe practices for her community. Faulty masks for pregnant women in Japan.

1. Invitation to Virtual Event: On Monday, May 11th at 5:00 PM GMT / 1:00 PM EDT Experts from Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, and Afghanistan will discuss the intersecting pandemics: COVID-19 and Violence Against Women and Girls. Forced to shelter in place with their abusers, women and girls are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 global lockdowns. Hotlines are receiving a spike in calls for help, home invasions and sexual violence are on the rise in some countries, some hotlines are longer staffed as governments focus on the Coronavirus. We will also discuss 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. Join via Zoom.

2. Mexico: The Coahuila Ministry of Public Security reports that three sisters who worked for the Social Security Institute (IMSS) were found strangled to death in Torreón on Friday. SAY THEIR NAMES: According to the authorities, the victims were nurses Cecilia Pérez, 48, and Dora Pérez, 56, and 59-year-old Araceli Pérez who worked as a secretary for the IMSS. (Mexico News Daily)

Related: Three sisters who worked in Mexico's government hospital system were found murdered in the northern border state of Coahuila, stirring new alarm in a country where attacks on health care workers have occurred across the nation amid the coronavirus outbreak. Two were nurses, the other a hospital administrator. (New York Times)

3. Navajo Nation. At least 70 Navajo Nation members have died from COVID-19. Among them was Valentina Blackhorse, a 28 year old mother and community leader. She left behind a daughter named Poet and a legacy of fierce dedication to her culture and her community. (NPR) (NYT Obituary)

4. Pandemic threatens achievement of the Transformative Results committed to by UNFPA. More than 47 million women could lose access to contraception, leading to 7 million unintended pregnancies in the coming months. Additional impacts on family planning, Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage (UNFPA) (UNFPA Report)

5. Faulty masks for pregnant women are latest problem for Japan's government. Some 300,000 coronavirus masks sent to pregnant women in Japan as part of a government handout have been found to be faulty, media reported on Tuesday, the latest in a string of complaints about how the government has dealt with the epidemic. (Reuters)


  • From Every Mother Counts: Information and Resource Hub related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic for mothers-to-be, physicians, doulas, midwives, and caregivers. (Every Mother Counts)
  • 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 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: 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 Elizabeth@everywoman.org