“The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting women and girls the hardest, especially those from low-income communities. A recent study in the U.K. finds that women were about one-third more likely than men to work in a sector that has been shut down, as they make up the bulk of retail and hospitality workers. In the face of gender injustice, a group of philanthropic funders are acting, rooted in feminist principles to challenge oppressive norms and power relations. The first step is to address the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on women and girls.
“Home is not a safe place for many women and girls. Gender-based violence – affecting 1 in 3 women globally over their lifetimes – is a risk now with COVID-19. Mandatory lock-downs trap and isolate; other sheltering options are inaccessible; added stresses trigger perpetrators; medical care and psychological support are overburdened,” says Cynthia Steele, President and CEO of EMpower, a foundation focused on at-risk youth in emerging market countries. Despite the reported rise in domestic violence, governments have not been providing support to those affected. In mid-March, Steele and the Empower team already reached out to their grantees individually to express solidarity and check in on them.”