On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, a webinar session was held within the conference: “Gender Dynamics in the era of Covid-19” which is being organized by Women as Partners in Progress WPP in cooperation with Khalil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace. The session highlighted the impact of Covid-19 virus on domestic violence and how the crisis contributed to the increase and reproduction of this phenomenon. The session also discussed the extent of the impact of COVID 19 on women internationally and regionally, and the structural causes of these differences. The session also discussed the mechanisms and ways of providing social protection for women, and how to intensify the efforts in this regard. Moreover, it discussed how to unify the efforts to protect women in light of this crisis.
Lawyer, Wafa Bani Mustafa, the Chairperson of the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence against Women, moderated the session and said that the current crisis can be used as an opportunity to rethink of the response methods and develop more comprehensive response plans. She emphasized that women are more affected by the pandemic, especially women working as day laborers, women working in the services sector, and in the education sector, noting that globally more than 70% of females work in the services sector, more than 66% work in the primary education sector, and more than 54% work in secondary education .
Dr. Dina Douai, Director of the Women, Family and Childhood Department at the League of Arab States, spoke about the efforts of the League of Arab States, especially the Social and Economic Sectors, in presenting policies to address the Corona pandemic. She noted that there are 13 departments in the Social Sector in the League of Arab States dealing with important issues such as women’s affairs and human rights. She pointed out that since the beginning of the pandemic, the League of Arab States has worked on collecting information through communicating with countries using the internet, stressing that the information gathered highlighted that women are the most affected by the pandemic. She indicated that they are cooperating with the UNHCR to obtain information about the situation of Refugee and displaced women under the Corona pandemic. She talked about the initiative (My Story in the Time of Corona) launched by the Women, Family and Childhood Department, stressing that these stories will be monitored to develop regional policies to deal with the problems left by the pandemic. She pointed out that the Health Sector held a meeting at the level of Arab ministers of health to learn how to deal with this crisis, and that the Secretary General of the League of Arab States held a meeting at the level of Arab ministries of culture to convert cultural activities into electronic due to the curfew.
Her Excellency lawyer Reem Abu Hassan, Honorary Chairperson of the Association for the Protection of Victims of Family Violence and the former Minister of Social Development, hailed the importance of having statistics and data available in Jordan. She explained that the data was used during the Corona pandemic to support the families of day laborers through requests submitted to the Social Security Institution and the National Aid Fund. She indicated the availability of data and information for about four and a half million individuals in Jordan, and that until May 13, emergency cash assistance has been disbursed to 180,000 families of daily laborers. She pointed out that the available sources of information were obtained from Complementary Support mechanisms and Bread Subsidies databases. “This information formed the basis for helping poor families first and then daily laborers working in the informal sector,” she said stressing that the grievances were opened for those who were unable to obtain emergency cash assistance to the families of the daily laborers. She mentioned the “My Rest in My Home” initiative launched by the Association to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence. She indicated that this initiative came to provide psychological counseling, social support, and legal advice. She emphasized that psychological counseling had the largest share in terms of the number of calls. Moreover, women won the largest share of the requests for psychological counseling services as women search for venting and advice due to anxiety, the feeling of losing control, and dealing with the new situation of being with the family continuously and doing multiple tasks at the same time. She added that the process included providing psychological counseling regarding dealing with issues of child fear and various issues including addiction. With regard to legal consultations, she indicated that most of the inquiries were about work-related defense orders as well as issues related to divorce, alimony and legal housing. This in addition to direct contact with volunteer experts in the association, broadcasting targeted educational messages to raise awareness and publishing scientific articles on the importance of psychological support. She concluded by stressing that Jordan faced many crises starting from the influx of refugees over several waves over the years up till the Corona crisis and that it has addressed these crises with clear mechanisms such as the national response plan for the Syrian crisis. “It is time for the civil society in Jordan to work in a holistic approach to prepare a Jordanian model to respond to crises that includes relief mechanisms of all kinds. This model should provide frameworks for dealing with relief and how to respond to any crisis, including social protection.” She said.
Dr. Dina Melhem, Director of MENA and West Asia at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, pointed out the ways in which Western countries responded to the increase in domestic violence in the light of the Corona crisis. She indicated that two-thirds of communications received by the security forces in one of the states in USA were about family violence, and in Scotland, the government instructed the police and the court to prioritize responses to domestic violence during this period and created new ways to report violence. She also indicated that some European Union countries focused on providing psychological support due to the increase in suicides, and that UK has allocated 76 million pounds to charities that fight violence and modern slavery. She added that Canada allocated million Canadian dollars to support women’s shelters, Australia allocated $ 150 million to respond to violence at home, France allocated 20,000 free rooms as shelters for violence and enabled victims to report violence cases through pharmacies. At the level of parliaments, Dr. Melhem indicated that awareness raising campaigns have been intensified, and oversight and accountability intensified too. Moreover, she added that the Women and Equality Committee of the British House of Commons conducted hearing sessions on the different and disproportionate impact that the Corona virus hads on women, and the measures taken to address it. The Committee presented a number of questions to the government about the consideration of equality in light of the crisis and about the expected consequences. It also listened to testimonies. Dr. Melhem emphasized that the work of Parliaments has changed due to the transition from personal to electronic meetings and indicated that this matter may constitute a challenge to wider participation by civil society organizations, particularly organizations concerned with refugee affairs or a number of other vulnerable groups. She indicated that the pandemic highlighted the need to consider budget laws and reallocate funds to address violence against women. She stressed on the necessity of the availability of classified data especially for vulnerable groups such as children, elderly women, women and girls with disabilities, and refugee / migrant women. She also stressed the importance of the existence of women leaders, especially at the level of parliaments, the civil society and political parties.
Representative Khadija Al Zayani, a member of the Moroccan parliament, spoke about Morocco’s experience in dealing with the pandemic, noting at the outset that Morocco had taken precautionary measures that limited the spread of the virus significantly. She indicated that, according to the Public Prosecutor memo at the Court of Cassation, the Chief Public Prosecutor confirmed on Thursday, April 30, 2020 that the kingdom’s courts registered between 20 March and 20 April (892) complaints related to all types of violence against women, and it initiated procedures for 148 cases until investigating the rest of the complaints. She emphasized that the Federal Association for Women’s Rights recorded in the same period 240 telephone calls and 451 violent acts of all kinds with the following proportions: 48% of the calls were on psychological violence, 33% were on economic violence, and 12% were on physical violence. She pointed to the challenges faced by nursing workers, as she indicated that more than 60% of workers in the health sector are women who work on the front lines.
 Prime Minister Omar Razzaz on May 30,2019 launched the biggest national program for social protection in the history of Jordan, at a cost of up to JD200 million, over the duration of three years. The program does not only provide financial support but also includes educational, health, transport and renewable energy bundles and services. It’s planned that this program will benefit 25,000 families through direct cash support, 50,000 households to receive health insurance, 5,000 families to benefit from energy-saving projects, 10,000 to receive public transport services and 50,000 students to benefit from school food program that are directed to poor children.
 Citizens who benefit from bread subsidies are those with annual salary of no more than JOD 12,000 for a family and 6,000 for individuals. Those registered with the National Aid Fund receive the amount of JOD 33 per capita, while other beneficiaries receive JOD 27. All Jordanians can apply for Bread Subsidies except: government and security sector employees, civil and military retirees, and social security pensioners who receive it directly through their salaries.