COVID is fueling a pandemic of violence against women and girls

On a recent visit to a tribal village in South India, I met with children, elders, and teachers, who told me how their lives have been affected by Covid-19. The implementation of crucial, but often blunt, public health measures such as stay-at-home policies and the disruption of key services like schools and health facilities have significantly eroded social well-being, isolation, income, and educational attainment. They have also increased violence against many women and girls…

Our scenario planning finds that too many adverse social outcomes of the pandemic, such as the state of mental health, increasing violence or discrimination, and policies targeting inequalities, are not currently being addressed by the global community. Governments and multilateral actors have failed to consider longer-term outcomes and broader consequences of the pandemic on individual and social well-being.

The most likely scenario predicts that, five years hence, many societies will see heightened poverty and spikes in mental health conditions. Higher levels of anxiety, stress, and depression will lead to knock-on effects on physical health. And vulnerable family conditions combined with employment insecurity, social isolation, and reduced access to support services will likely exacerbate violence that disproportionately affects women and girls.