End Violence, Exclusion and Discrimination Against Women – #BreakTheBias
The Global Call To Action Against Poverty (GCAP) expresses deep concern over the war in Ukraine and especially the security and survival of women and girls in Ukraine and in all conflict-affected countries like Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan. Women and girls are facing sexual violence and several restrictions in many countries including the right to education amidst an unmanageable humanitarian crisis. The UN already warned that the war in Ukraine will force millions of people to flee their homes, increasing the risk of violence against women and girls.
Impact of COVID-19:
The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that women and girls, particularly those from marginalized groups as indigenous communities, communities discriminated by work and descent (CDWD), older women, women with disabilities and women refugees, have faced multiple discriminations during and after pandemic due to state apathy, cultural prejudices, loss of income and familial negligence. The pandemic has pushed hundreds of millions of people including women into poverty, devastating their lives – and most profoundly the lives of the women from marginalized groups.
The global Leave No Woman Behind Report of GCAP revealed the gross negligence, discrimination and violence faced by women and girls from marginalized groups, in accessing governments’ relief measures and benefits. These included:
Femicide is an extreme and lethal form of gender violence that continues to affect thousands of women and girls all over the world. COVID-19 led to an increase of femicide from France to Singapore. In Latin America and the Caribbean, at least 4,091 women were victims of femicide in 2020.
Indigenous communities have been at risk from COVID-19 owing to their limited access to health services, lack of access to information in native languages about the virus and relief packages. Indigenous women migrant workers in Asia have been hit particularly hard due to loss of employment, and there have been reports of hunger, torture and violence. They have witnessed state violence due to their displacement from their lands during the pandemic. Indigenous and rural women play an important role in the food security of their countries. In Latin America for example, of the 58 million women living in the countryside only 30% own agricultural land. This demonstrates a gender discrimination that makes rural and indigenous women more vulnerable to eviction and lack of access to land.
There have been similar exclusionary practices against refugee women, women with disabilities and older women.
During the ongoing vaccination drive, there have been gross inequalities in access to vaccinations between the global north and global south. There has been less availability of vaccines for the low and middle-income countries due to the intellectual rights protection of the COVID-19 vaccines. This has been a result of the opposition to the TRIPS waiver by the EU, UK, Germany and others as well as due to the hording of the vaccines by rich countries. It is thus, no wonder that barely 11 percent of Africa’s population are vaccinated currently. There is also an absence of credible data to establish gender discrimination in vaccinations. Empirical observations however suggest that women from marginalized communities worldwide are facing obstacles in accessing vaccines due to cultural prejudices, lack of technology and vaccine prioritization.
Gender inequality is a perverse form of discrimination which undermines women’s identity and agency and deprives them of their rights. On the International Women’s Day 2022, GCAP urges state parties to end violence, exclusion and discrimination against all women and girls, and to finally achieve gender equality and inclusion – Women’s Rights are Human Rights!