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UN holds talk on Covid’s gender impact

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During the conference held by the UN titled "The Gendered Response to COVID-19". (Photo: Raya Tarawneh/ Jordan News)
AMMAN – A UN Talk titled “The Gendered Response to COVID-19” occurred on Thursday, with the goal of addressing the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on women and adolescent girls in Jordan.اضافة اعلان

Done in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP), the event consisted of two panels with three speakers each.

Sitting on the first panel was Anders Pedersen, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan; Ib Petersen, the Deputy Executive Director at UNFPA; and Enshrah Ahmed, Head of Office at UNFPA Jordan.

Sitting on the second panel was Salma Nims, the Secretary General of the National Commission for Women; Abla Amawi, the Secretary General of the Higher Population Council (HPC); and Ibrahim Aqel, the Director of the Institute for Family Health at the King Hussein Foundation.

The talk focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in gender-based violence, owing in large part to school closures, work from home, and lockdown measures.

Anders Pedersen referred to this phenomenon as a “shadow pandemic, second pandemic, or invisible pandemic,” in addition to a “secondary impact” of the virus that is just now hitting us.

He explained that the pandemic has exacerbated key risk factors for gender-based violence, whether physical, psychological, or sexual. Specifically, school closures and financial insecurity have led to “a heightened risk of sexual exploitation, harassment, and child marriage.”

Pedersen noted that the current situation is “in no way just a public health crisis,” emphasizing the need to focus on engaging women – not for the mere sake of rights and equality – but to recover from the pandemic.

Ib Petersen advanced a similar claim, noting that what we are currently faced with is “not just a health crisis, not just an economic crisis,” but that it also “reflects cultural structures of different societies.”

Salma Nims also addressed the question of overcoming such cultural structures, or social norms.

“I would say that when it comes to the position of the government of Jordan, there is a commitment... but how do we realize it with all the complexities around it?” she said.

Nims spoke on the challenges posed by social norms and mentalities that obstruct legislation and implementation efforts.

“We cannot expect the government to be doing the work for gender-based violence alone,” she added.

“We are all working toward the same national goal.”

Abla Amawi emphasized the importance of an intersectional approach to gender-based violence and inequality.

“The urban Jordanian has different challenges than the refugee woman,” she said.

She maintained that there is need to look at how such challenges are “magnified when the same girl is sitting in a refugee camp, without access to services.”

“The intersectionality matters… socioeconomic and political status matters,” she added.

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