Upholding the rights of women and girls during COVID-19
Graphic: A woman wearing a mask, Thailand
A new APF publication provides a snapshot of the issues facing women and girls during the pandemic and how NHRIs have used their mandate in response.
As countries across the globe continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific have reported growing inequalities and increasing discrimination against women and girls.
"We know that a pandemic of this scale affects women and men differently," said Fasoha Aishath, APF Gender Focal Point.
"This includes increased levels of violence against women and girls, discrimination when accessing health and other services, being more vulnerable to unemployment and concerns around food and water security."
These challenges have been outlined in a new APF publication – The Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Girls – which draws on the experiences of nine NHRIs in the region.
This crisis is not just a health issue; it impacts all aspects of economic, social, cultural, civil and political life and rights.
The publication provides a snapshot of the issues facing women and girls in different countries during the pandemic and how NHRIs have used their mandate to respond to these issues.
The case studies – provided by the NHRIs of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines, Samoa and Timor Leste – cover the period from April-June 2020, a time when most countries were implementing their initial responses to COVID-19, including lockdowns and restrictions on freedom of movement.
They highlight the efforts of NHRIs to:
- Monitor states of emergency and other government actions
- Gather data when and if it was available
- Apply a gender lens to their analysis and responses
- Disseminate public submissions and press releases
- Publish targeted papers, reports, letters and guidance notes
- Share good practice, raise awareness and facilitate community engagement
- Collaborate with women's groups from civil society, government and international sectors and taking part in joint projects
- Examine internal policies and operations to understand and address issues faced by female and male staff.
Graphic: NHRI staff distribute food aid to families in Baghdad
"Once the pandemic itself is contained, the recovery process will be enormous," Ms Aishath said. "Women will be both in front and centre in the recovery effort but, at the same time, impacted by the inequitable situations they find themselves in."
"NHRIs play a pivotal role in continuing to highlight the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls and using their mandate to address this impact," she said.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Girls was coordinated by gender expert Dr Jillian Chrisp, with case studies provided by NHRI representatives taking part in the APF blended learning course on Mainstreaming the Human Rights of Women and Girls.
Date: 20 July 2020
Ms Fatima Khalil, a donor liaison officer with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, was killed with her colleague Ahmed Jawid Folad in a targeted attack in Kabul on 27 June 2020.
At the time, Ms Khalil was participating in the APF Blended Learning Course on Mainstreaming the Human Rights of Women and Girls. She was actively collaborating on the development of this resource.
The APF remembers her as a dedicated and passionate advocate for human rights, especially the rights of women and girls.
- A woman wearing a mask, Thailand - UN Women/Ploy Phutpheng, Flickr CC
- NHRI staff distribute food aid to families in Baghdad - Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights
- Memorial service for Fatima Khalil and Ahmed Jawid Folad - Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission