The Chairperson of the Coalition Participates in a Meeting of Experts Organized by the Arab Council for Population and Development
H.E. Wafa Bani Mustafa, on July 15, 2020, participated in a meeting of experts organized by the Arab Council for Population and Development on the occasion of the celebration of the World Population Day, which is celebrated on 7/11/2020 under the slogan “Protecting the health and rights of women and girls in light of the Corona crisis.” The meeting was attended by H.E. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary General of the League of Arab States, and H.E. Abla Amawi, Secretary-General of the Higher Population Council in Jordan. Bani Mustafa, spoke about the impact of the shadow pandemic on women, and indicated that Jordan faced several challenges, including the increase in domestic violence and violence against women during the pandemic, and the difficulty of the economic conditions of poor and vulnerable families, the loss of a number of heads of families to their jobs. She stressed on the increased suffering of families headed by women due to the extraordinary conditions of the curfew; the cessation and weakness of some informal social protection services during the pandemic due to the delay in allowing CSOs to work,; the increase in family burdens on women during the curfew and the difficulty of coordinating between the family and work; and the absence and weakness of programs targeting women with disabilities, the elderly and those who head families.
She pointed to statistics on the increase in the phenomenon of domestic violence in some Arab countries, as a study conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies in Jordan indicated that 12% of women in Jordan were subjected to violence by a family member during the curfew, and that 34% reported that the curfew led to quarrels, disagreements or violence within the family. She added that Kafa organization in Lebanon received 560 cases in April 2020, and that a study conducted by the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Social Counseling covering the period between April 23-30 showed that 54 women were helped, 15 of them were subjected to physical violence, and two of them were placed in a shelter. In Morocco, the Chief Public Prosecutor confirmed on April 30, 2020 that the Kingdom’s courts, from March 20 to April 20, 2020, registered (892) complaints related to all kinds of violence against women.
She emphasized that the coalition issued a statement on May 6, 2020, indicating the seriousness of the increase in violence, and indicated that the coalition held 6 sessions in cooperation with women as partners in progress and development and the Khalil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace of the University of Maryland on: The impact of Covid 19 on domestic violence and social protection, The absence of women from the media during Covid 19, distance learning, the effect of Covid 19 on youth, and the post-pandemic effect on women. She referred to the initiative launched by the Department of Women, Family and Childhood, entitled: “My Story in the Time of Coronavirus”, which will be used to monitor cases and develop regional policies to deal with the problems left by the pandemic. She added that in Tunisia, the finance bill, which parallels the budget bill in some countries, will be reviewed to be amended to face the problems and scenarios that have arisen as a result of the pandemic.
She concluded by explaining the lessons learned, namely that Covid 19 revealed that crises limit the ability of women to avoid violations and put victims in an environment that lacks appropriate services and stressed that government response plans must include (putting women’s safety first). She indicated that the absence of Arab women from executive positions was revealed and continued during the pandemic, and this led to the absence of women’s voices during the pandemic, so the heroes appeared and the heroines did not appear. She stressed the importance of preparing response plans in countries to provide safe access to sexual and reproductive health services and address gender-based violence, especially for the most vulnerable groups during periods of crises.