Keeping women and girls safe during coronavirus

What's the issue?

When households are put under strain, domestic violence and sexual exploitation rise. We are already hearing reports of domestic violence cases rising across the world as a result of increased isolation. This is consistent with evidence that of abuse rising during times of societal stress – from food scarcity and financial pressure, to natural disasters and conflict, to a local football team losing a match.

Women disproportionately work in insecure labour. Disruptions, including movement restrictions, can remove women’s ability to make a living and meet their families’ basic needs. For many survivors of domestic violence, work is a necessary respite from their day to day reality.

As public services are increasingly stretched, women and children will suffer. Access to justice services, pre- and post-natal care, and sexual and reproductive health services often have resources diverted away As women shoulder a disproportionate amount of unpaid care work, they will take on additional responsibilities during this time – and their voices risk going unheard.

What is UN Women doing to help?



UN Women is working closely with the World Health Organisation and UN country teams to:

  • Collect gender- and sex-disaggregated data on the effects of COVID19 so that global and national efforts can respond to women and girls’ needs
  • Provide technical expertise to support risk communication and community engagement with women and marginalised people
  • Run programmes to ensure women do not become economically marginalised, and remain resilient throughout this crisis.
    We are also working with the data from Ebola and Zika to learn what needs to be done differently for vulnerable women this time.

This work urgently needs funding support, so that we can make sure that the needs of women and girls are recognised and addressed in the global COVID-19 response.

We understand that many are stretched financially at this time, but if you would like to support us to do this, please give what you can.

In the UK


Our Safe Spaces Now project is all about collecting data and stories of real women’s lived experiences of safety from across the UK, and creating solutions to create safer public spaces.

Allies are a huge part of this. Lots of you have been getting in touch with us to ask how you can:

  • See the data on the issues women are experiencing during COVID-19
  • Share advice about how to reach out to people in your local community who need help, including easy triage to critical services, and avoid them becoming completely isolated
  • Access tips, ideas, and inspiration from on how we can all be better allies and ensure no one gets left behind.

That’s why we’re building the Everyday Allyship platform: a way to bring people together to be everyday activists using digital technology. You can contribute by sharing your tips, and telling us about your services and charities.

We all have a part to play in ensuring no one is left behind during this challenging time. Join the change.

If you are worried about being at risk of domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge on 0808 2000 247.
If you or someone else is in immediate danger, always call 999. If you need to, you can press 55 to use the Silent Solution system, and let the operator know it’s an emergency and you can’t talk.