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UNFPA Arab States to hold media symposium on gender-based violence during pandemics


Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the United Nations Population Fund will explore with journalists and experts the impact of lockdowns and curfews on the rights of women and girls in the region and the principles of bringing their stories to the public. 


Given the rise in the risks of violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of ensuring accurate, ethical coverage of this critical issue, the United Nations Population Fund Arab States Regional Office will organize a virtual media symposium targeting journalists and media professionals throughout the Arab States region.


The one-hour, virtual symposium will be held on Thursday 18 June 2020, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on 19 June, and the Brussels conference on Supporting Syria and the Region on 30 June. The event will be livestreamed on Facebook from 12:00 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. Amman time (9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. GMT).


“Organizations working to combat gender-based violence worldwide have issued an unsettling amount of reports showing that more violence is occurring against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented Luay Shabeneh, UNFPA Regional Director, Arab States. “Given that many of these reports have come from Arab States organizations, it is vital for journalists in the region to not only increase coverage of this issue but to do so in a professional, survivor-centered manner.”


The regional symposium will shed light on the underlying connections between health crises, gender equality, and gender-based violence. UNFPA’s programme data shows many of the measures deemed necessary for controlling a viral outbreak not only exacerbate GBV-related risks by limiting the ability of survivors to distance themselves from their abusers, but they also limit or sever survivors’ access to life-saving support.


Moreover, recent assessments by UNFPA show that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause a one-third reduction in progress towards ending gender-based violence by 2030, and that, for every three months of lockdown, three million additional cases of gender-based violence are expected to be recorded. For journalists who report on social justice and human rights, raising public awareness on the mounting challenges facing women and girls during this pandemic becomes increasingly crucial, especially given that a crisis of this magnitude can often reveal many of the underlying inequalities within communities.      


The media symposium will be moderated by renowned Jordanian media specialist, Suzanne Afanah, and will include real-life insights from journalists with extensive experience covering gender-based violence, including Joumana Haddad from Lebanon, Nadine Nimri from Jordan, and others. Practical insights will also be provided to facilitate reporting by journalists, including those by gender-based violence specialists, service providers in crisis countries, women’s rights activists, and others.


“We encourage all journalists who are interested in exploring COVID-19 from a gender perspective and in covering gender-based violence more professionally to join the conversation on 18 June and benefit from a wide range of perspectives on the issue,” added Shabaneh.




For more information:


Jafar Irshaidat

Communication Specialist / UNFPA Arab States Humanitarian Hub


Cell: (962) 79 828 1300