Confronting the Shadow Pandemic

The global lockdowns, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, have created environments that increased the incidence and severity of violence against women and girls (VAW/G).


Confinement and restriction of movement fostered tension, distress, and worries for everyone, but they trapped women with abusive partners. Too often, women were unable to access resources and support systems because many of the organizations dedicated to helping victims of violence were unable to operate.  The economic fallout and the additional demand for services forced shelters for victims of domestic violence to find ways to stay open even as many operated near capacity.


The global upsurge of VAW/G prompted Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women to declare it a “shadow pandemic” that must be urgently addressed. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for all governments “to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.” Facing this shadow pandemic, each of us, from individuals to communities to governments, from the private sector to civil society to police and justice services, has a responsibility to act.


Against the background of this hidden pandemic of horrifying scale, the International Women’s Convocation (IWC) remains committed to protecting and supporting women and girls.


Addressing gender-based violence is a priority for IWC. Its violence prevention and awareness programs operate with on-the-ground partners in the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills (India), Transylvania (Romania), and in UU communities in the Philippines. Last year, those programs were extended to include Hungary and Bolivia. In this crisis, our awareness and advocacy are more important – and urgent – than ever.


Your support is vital to ensure that our VAW/G awareness programs and advocacy continue.

Check out this video focusing on the ongoing collaboration with the Unitarian Women's Association of Romania (UNOSZ), including violence awareness and prevention programs!