COVID response: Gender equality


Evidence from past epidemics shows that gender-based inequalities determine how women´s and men’s health, economic equality, security and safety are affected during and after the crisis. Understanding the gender-differentiated impacts of disease outbreaks is fundamental to creating effective, equitable policies and interventions that leave no one behind.

Women in Europe and Central Asia already face disproportionate challenges in terms of employment, which will only worsen with the pandemic. In the region, women earn on average 30 percent less than men in formal jobs. For many, their work is informal and part-time, lacking social protection, insurance coverage and access to healthcare. Many women risk losing their jobs or seeing their wages decrease because of increasing domestic burden and unpaid care work.

Women-led small and medium businesses, often lacking social safety nets and savings, are also expected to face greater challenges in accessing credit and support for rebuilding their own business. The pandemic could intensify economic dis-empowerment of women and increase gender gaps in employment. We are assessing the extent of these impacts and supporting governments to formulate tailored policies.

In this region, one in three women experience physical and/or psychological violence, mostly from their partners. During COVID-19, gender-based violence has increased due to restrictions of movements, lockdowns and quarantines. We are supporting governments with a range of measures to combat violence against women and girls in the home, from developing mobile apps to strengthening police and social systems to providing immediate assistance to women’s shelters.

Given the profoundly gendered impacts of the pandemic, it is imperative to ensure equal participation in COVID-19 response. It is critical that women policymakers – in government, parliament, civil society and other sectors – shape policy and decision.

Read more in our Gender Equality COVID-19 Bulletin


Here's what we're doing


- UNDP in Albania is working with central and local authorities to prevent and tackle cases of domestic violence. UNDP continued working closely with relevant line ministries and the State Police and CSOs to pay adequate attention to identifying violence situations and related response and advocate for necessary measures to tackle the situation of domestic violence.

- UNDP in Azerbaijan, with the EU and civil society organizations, organised business development trainings for over 6,000 aspiring women entrepreneurs.

- In Armenia, UNDP brought women who participated in its leadership schools and trainings together in an online community, training them on disaster preparedness and response and creating a new resource cadre for their villages and towns. They are seen as the driving force to help tackle COVID-19-related consequences in local communities, for which UNDP will help provide ‘new-demand’ (digital) services to support them.

- In Serbia, UNDP has been addressing the rising issue of domestic violence by increasing local partners’ SOS helpline capacities, crating social network campaigns together with the "Journalists Against Violence" group and strengthening the multi-agency cooperation between responsible state bodies - police, prosecutors and centers for social work - during the pandemic.

- UNDP in Montenegro and the Government developed the BeSafe app, which connects those affected by domestic violence to the help they need. A message with the phone number and geolocation is received by the National SOS Helpline, whose activists immediately contact the person who tapped the help button. Professional staff are well trained and educated for acting in emergency situations related to violence, while all the data are safe and confidential. 

- To combat the increase in domestic violence in Uzbekistan, UNDP will focus its work, in cooperation with UNFPA, on awareness raising and protection materials for shelters, public funding for civil-society-managed shelters, hotlines for survivors, virtual psychosocial and legal services, and online briefings for police and social workers to implement gender-based violence referrals.

- UNDP in Tajikistan is tailoring its ongoing business acceleration programs to support women-led projects and small businesses in potential areas of growth.


UNDP Uzbekistan distributed flyers in pharmacies with information for gender-based violence support. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan



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