Friday, August 21, 2020

Anita Bhatia on Women and COVID-19:

Thursday: 26th March 2020
 Five things governments can do now 
--By UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia
Governments the world over are struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. While some voices have flagged the impacts on women, gender concerns are not yet shaping the decisions that mainly male leaders are making. At the same time, many of the impacts of COVID-19 are hitting women hardest. Here’s why:

First, while the economic and social impacts on all are severe, they are more so for women. Many of the industries in the formal economy directly affected by quarantines and lockdowns—travel, tourism, restaurants, food production—have very high female labour force participation. Women also constitute a large percentage of the informal economy in informal markets and agriculture around the world. In both developed and developing economies, many informal sector jobs—domestic workers, caregivers—are mostly done by women who typically lack health insurance and have no social safety net to fall back on. 

At the same time, women typically shoulder a greater burden of care. On average women did three times as much unpaid care work as men at home even before COVID-19. Now, formal sector female employees with children are balancing one or more of the following: work (if they still have it), childcare, homeschooling, elder care, and housework. Female-headed households are particularly vulnerable.

Second, the crisis is having an impact on women’s health and safety. Apart from the direct impacts of the disease, women may find it hard to access much needed maternal health services given that all services are being directed to essential medical needs. Availability of contraception and services for other needs may become disrupted. Women’s personal safety is also at risk. The very conditions that are needed to battle the disease—isolation, social distancing, restrictions on freedom of movement—are, perversely, the very conditions that feed into the hands of abusers who now find state-sanctioned circumstances tailor-made for unleashing abuse. 

Third, because the majority of frontline health workers—especially nurses—are women, their risk of infection is higher. (By some estimates 67 per cent global health force is women). So, while attention must be paid to ensuring safe conditions for ALL caregivers, special attention is needed for female nurses and carers—not only in access to personal protective equipment like masks but also for other needs such as menstrual hygiene products—that may be easily and inadvertently overlooked, but are essential to ensuring they are able to function well. 

Finally, it is striking how many of the key decision-makers in the process of designing and executing the pandemic response are men. When any one of us switches on the television anywhere in the world we see a sea of men. This is not surprising given that women still do not enjoy the same degree of participation in major decision-making bodies—governments, parliaments, cabinets or corporations—as men do. Only 25 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide are women, and less than 10 per cent of Heads of State or Government are women. While we have a few shining examples of women Heads of State or Government, women are conspicuous by their absence in decision-making fora in this pandemic. 

Here are five actions governments can take now to address these issues: 
First, ensure that the needs of female nurses and doctors are integrated into every aspect of the response effort. At a minimum, this means ensuring that menstrual hygiene products such as sanitary pads and tampons are available for female caregivers and frontline responders as part of personal protective equipment. This will ensure that they do not face unnecessary discomforts in already challenging situations. But most importantly, talk to the caregivers and listen to their needs and respond. They deserve all the support we can provide right now, particularly support in terms of much-needed critical medical equipment. 

Second, ensure that hotlines and services for all victims of domestic abuse are considered “essential services“ and are kept open and law enforcement is sensitized to the need to be responsive to calls from victims. Follow the example of Quebec and Ontario, which have included shelters for women survivors in the list of essential services. This will ensure that the pandemic does not inadvertently lead to more trauma, injury and deaths during the quarantine period, given the high proportion of violent deaths of women perpetrated by intimate partners. 

Third, bailout and stimulus packages must include social protection measures that reflect an understanding of women’s special circumstances and recognition of the care economy. This means ensuring health insurance benefits for those most in need and paid and/or sick leave for those unable to come to work because they are taking care of children or elders at home. 

For informal sector employees, who constitute the vast majority of the female labour force in developing economies, special efforts should be made to deliver compensatory payments. Identifying those informal sector workers will be a challenge and will need to take account of a country's particular circumstances, but it is worth the effort to ensure more equity in outcomes.

Fourth, leaders must find a way to include women in response and recovery decision-making. Whether at the local, municipal or national level, bringing the voices of women into decision-making will lead to better outcomes; we know from many settings that diversity of views will enrich a final decision. Alongside this, policy-makers should leverage the capacities of women’s organizations. Reaching out to enlist women’s groups will help ensure a more robust community response as their considerable networks can be leveraged to disseminate and amplify social distancing messaging. The Ebola response benefited from the involvement of women’s groups, why not this? 

Finally, policy makers must pay attention to what is happening in peoples’’ homes and support an equal sharing of the burden of care between women and men. There is a great opportunity to “unstereotype” the gender roles that play out in households in many parts of the world. One concrete action for governments, particularly for male leaders, is to join our campaign, HeForShe and stay tuned for more information about “HeforShe@home”, whereby we enlist men and boys to ensure that they are doing their fair share at home and alleviating some of the care burdens that fall disproportionately on women.

These actions and more are urgent. Building in the needs of women offers an opportunity for us to “build back better”.

What better tribute to our shared humanity than to implement policy actions that build a more equal world (UN Women)
Thursday: 26th March 2020

Thursday, August 20, 2020

help for sexual assault survivors has not diminished

Wednesday 19th August 2020
 It remained continued even during the Corona Crisis 
Special Features from DOD: 19th August 2020: (DOD//The Women Screen)::
The Department of Defense (DOD) announced that help for sexual assault survivors has not diminished during the National Emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once DOD put Force Health Protection measures in place, victim assistance professionals quickly shifted to telephone support, ensuring survivors received uninterrupted timely, professional, and quality assistance.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to helping our warriors and their families who may be seeking assistance with an experience of sexual assault,” said Dr. Nate Galbreath, acting director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO). “We want to assure everyone in the DOD community that we are still here to support them on their healing journey.”
Continued Support//First Responders
Service members and adult dependents who have been victims of sexual assault still have access to the services of a sexual assault response coordinator (SARC) or sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) victim advocates who can help them report the assault, and hold their alleged offenders appropriately accountable.
When any Service member or adult dependent reports a sexual assault, the SARC addresses the victim’s immediate safety needs, connects the victim to recovery-oriented resources, and assigns a SAPR victim advocate.
The SAPR victim advocate provides advocacy and assistance throughout the medical, investigative, and legal processes, as appropriate. Upon determining eligibility, SAPR victim advocates will inform the victim of his or her option to make a Restricted or Unrestricted report.  Those making a Restricted Report may also consider providing information to the Catch a Serial Offender (CATCH) program.
Special Victims Counsel (Army and Air Force) and Victims Legal Counsel (Navy and Marine Corps), chaplains, and healthcare providers also continue to be available. To find out how to connect with these providers, contact your local SARC and SAPR victim advocates through the DOD Safe Helpline at or 877-995-5247.
DOD Safe Helpline
The DOD Safe Helpline is a hotline dedicated to members of the DOD community affected by sexual assault. Safe Helpline offers completely anonymous, confidential, 24/7 support available online at or by calling 877-995-5247. In addition, the Safe Helpline Mobile App provides access to one-on-one support, peer-to-peer support, information, resources and access to self-care exercises 24/7, worldwide, on a mobile device. Safe Helpline personnel can provide crisis intervention support and – with their robust and verified database of resources across the nation -- refer members to care resources within their local community or to the closest SARC or SAPR victim advocate.
What is New//Electronic Forms
If SAPR personnel are unable to meet with a Service member in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, the SARC of SAPR victim advocate can explain the DD Form 2910, or “Victim Preference Statement,” and get the member’s verbal approval over the phone, as well as accept electronic signatures.
Up-to-Date Knowledge of SAFE Possibilities
In an effort to mitigate to any impacts the pandemic has had on the administration of  Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations (SAFEs), SARC and SAPR victim advocates worked with their SAFE providers to update response procedures. Individuals seeking a SAFE should telephone their installation SARC/SAPR victim advocate in advance for instructions on where and how to present for medical care. Service members experiencing injury, requiring immediate medical attention, should not delay in seeking assistance at an emergency room.
More Frequent Check-Ins
Travel Restrictions and Stay at Home Orders necessary to limit the spread of the pandemic may exacerbate stress for some, including Service members who now may be unable to move to their new duty stations. 
SARCs and SAPR victim advocates can check in with members more frequently (particularly if the member requests) or reinitiate contact with them (as circumstances indicate) to identify any safety issues or concerns.
Up-to-Date Info on Resource Access Amid COVID
As travel restrictions and Stay at Home orders begin to ease, installation commanders will have the authority to adjust restrictions based on local Health Protection Condition Levels. It is important to contact a local SARC/SAPR victim advocate to obtain the most current information. To find out how to connect with your local SARC and SAPR victim advocates, please contact the DOD Safe Helpline at or 877-995-5247

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Support for Women’s Empowerment Principles

Tuesday: 18th August 2020
 Leading companies in Vietnam sign the CEO Statement of 
Business leaders in Vietnam join the "Equality Means Business" Forum in Hanoi where they signed on to the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Photo: UN Women Vietnam
Hanoi: (Vietnam):: 18th August 2020: (UN Women//The Women Screen)::
Business leaders in Viet Nam join the "Equality Means Business" Forum in Ha Noi where they signed on to the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Photo: UN Women Viet Nam
Ha Noi, Viet Nam–Twenty-one business leaders in Viet Nam joining a forum hosted by UN Women have signed the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) as they charted the next steps to achieve gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community.

The companies endorsed the Statement in the presence of the “Equality Means Business” forum organizers – UN Women, the EU Delegation in Viet Nam and the Viet Nam Women Entrepreneur Council (VWEC) under the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). They agreed to continue encouraging more businesses in the country to sign on.

Established by UN Women and United Nations Global Compact, the WEPs promote business practices that empower female workers. Signatories commit to take seven steps including giving women senior corporate posts and treating all workers fairly. UN Women also works to promote women in the private sector through its WeEmpowerAsia programme, which is funded by the European Union. The programme involves Viet Nam and six other Asian countries.

During the forum, the company representatives exchanged ideas on enhancing enterprise competitiveness, promotion of women’s participation in supply chains, and strategies for investing in women’s business leadership and talent. They also underlined the need for strong corporate leadership to scale ambitions into actions.

Elisa Fernandez Saenz, UN Women Viet Nam Country Representative, opened the gathering noting how empowering women strengthens the bottom line of businesses: “There is a direct correlation between investing in women’s employment and GDP per capita: countries with greater gender equality have faster-growing and more competitive economies. Likewise, businesses with greater gender equality display higher returns, higher levels of productivity and competitiveness, with better labour force and work environments.”

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, Chairwoman of the Viet Nam Women Entrepreneur Council (VWEC), shared at the forum: “Expansion of employment opportunities, dedication and promotion for women and men in community, at the workplace and in supply chain will exploit potentiality, strength of all. This is the perfect supplement and foundation to achieve the prosperity and sustainability of each country and company.”    

Tom Corrie, First Counsellor and Deputy Head of Cooperation Section at the European Union Delegation to Viet Nam said: “Viet Nam ranks the 3rd among ASEAN countries, in terms of gender gap score and in terms of economic participation and opportunities. Obviously, further efforts need to be placed on women economic empowerment. And I am glad to see European companies signing CEO’ commitment to Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), promoted by the WeEmpowerAsia programme, for which the EU is pleased to contribute.”

At present, there are 3,358 WEPs signatories worldwide, of which 67 are in Viet Nam including the 21 new signatories that had signed at the event.

The event, held ahead of World Entrepreneurs Day on August 21, saw the participation of Vietnamese as well as European businesses based in the country that highlighted the need to strengthen trade and cooperation links between European and Vietnamese markets as both sides continue advancing women’s economic rights and opportunities. (UN women)
UN Women AsiaPacific
Aug 18
Leading companies in #VietNam today signed the 
 as they chart the next steps to empowering more women! READ MORE: