ICGBV says increased commitment needed to fight “shadow pandemic” of violence against women around the world

The Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence (ICGBV) has said an increased commitment is needed to ensure a world free of violence against women and girls, warning that Covid-19 has created “a pandemic within a pandemic”.

Caoimhe de Barra, Chair of the ICGBV and Trócaire CEO, said today that Gender Based violence (GBV) is “a shadow pandemic” impacting on millions of women and girls around the world unable to access services or seek safety because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

“It is a very challenging time globally with the Covid-19 pandemic intensifying and exacerbating pre-existing inequalities. Covid-19 and the associated public health restrictions have led to a surge in GBV as many women and girls have limited access to functioning services which exposes them to risks. The continued acceleration of the climate crisis and conflict is also disrupting livelihoods and displacing people and thus multiplying risk factors for GBV.” she said.

Speaking at the launching of the ICGBV’s new strategic plan for 2021 – 2026, Ms de Barra called on the Government to leverage its political and leadership capital to address GBV and advance gender equality at the international level.

“In recent years, Ireland has demonstrated its commitment and leadership on efforts to eradicate GBV. Now more than ever, this vital work will require increased funds to ensure that we create a world where survivors are supported and protected, a world where women’s rights are valued, and a world beyond fear for women and girls,” Ms de Barra said.

The consortium’s new strategic plan identifies three priorities to address GBV:

  • The promotion of GBV prevention programming and gender equality. This requires addressing the power imbalances between males and females, as well as the social and gender norms that justify gender inequality.
  • Advancing GBV risk mitigation within humanitarian and development work. This requires compiling and distributing standards for risk mitigation, building/strengthening technical capacity in humanitarian organisations, and advancing learning between global and local contexts.
  • Strengthening the response to GBV. This includes improved access to security and justice, psychosocial support, safety and risk mitigation, and health care in humanitarian crisis and development work.

Launching the new strategy Minister of State with responsibility for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D, said: “The ICGBV an innovative collaboration, is now 17 years old. We came together in 2005 to respond to the horrific sexual violence that was occurring in Darfur at that time.  My department is honoured to work in this unique partnership with humanitarian and development NGOs, and the Defence Forces.”

He added: “Addressing gender-based violence is a key foreign policy of Ireland. We champion it at the UN Security Council, in our humanitarian responses, and in our development cooperation partnerships. The Irish Consortium on Gender-Based Violence has significantly strengthened and informed Ireland’s leadership in this area. Today’s launch of the new Strategic Plan will generate renewed momentum and commitment, and will help us eliminate this most egregious and persistent abuse of human rights globally.”

The ICGBV’s full strategic report 2021-2026 can be found here.