Heated Topics of the Week- Covid-19, Social protection from UNICEF would change gender-based violence

Glance at covid-19

Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world with about 70 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.5 million deaths.

The UK and Canada have become the first countries to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for widespread use. But as populations await vaccine roll-out, cases remain high across a number of regions of the world.

The US has recorded more than 15 million cases and nearly 300,000 deaths from coronavirus, the highest figures in the world. Daily cases have been at record levels since early November and there are now over 100,000 people in hospital, more than in either of the two previous waves.

Asia was the centre of the initial outbreak, but the number of cases there was relatively low until India saw a surge in infections over the summer. 

India has seen nearly 10 million confirmed cases, the second-highest official total in the world after the US, but the daily number has been falling since September. 

In Latin America, Brazil has nearly seven million confirmed cases and the world’s second highest death toll. The country is currently seeing a second surge in infections. Argentina, Colombia and Mexico have also recorded more than one million cases and all three countries are still seeing very high numbers of daily confirmed cases.

Social protection from UNICEF would change gender-based violence


Although there is increasing evidence that social protection can be a powerful tool in reducing intimate partner violence, this is an area that remains under-explored. UNICEF has played a key role in this area, supporting and producing cutting edge research, including a rigorous mixed method review of what we know about cash transfer programming and intimate partner violence in low- and middle-income countries. This indicated that in over 70 per cent of the 22 quantitative and qualitative studies reviewed, cash transfers to poor households reduced intimate partner violence, even though none of these programmes were designedto reduce violence.

Overall the evidence is promising, and that is something to pay attention to – not least because of the scale of social protection spending and systems, the magnitude of GBV, and the extensive nature of its consequences.

Social protection was a critical component of our toolkit for improving the lives of children, no question – but COVID-19 cast it in a different light. The pandemic has shifted social protection into the spotlight, with over 1100 new social protection measures introduced by more than 200 countries. It represents a significant scale of investment – for example, for 119 countries where data is available, social protection spending during COVID19 totals US$789.8 billion. At UNICEF, they are supporting the development of strong social protection systems in 115 countries, working with national governments to design, adapt, implement, monitor, evaluate and develop their social protection work. They are seeing the linkages between social protection and gender-based violence in this work already. For example, in Ghana we are seeing reductions in intimate partner violence, and in Tanzania, reductions in sexual violence against adolescent girls, for those participating in the programmes that combine cash transfers with other services.




Written by Honghong

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