The COVID-19 has increased the risks of sexual and gender-based violence against women in the Northern Region, Madam Bushira Alhassan, Northern Regional Director, Department of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has said.
She said in an epidemic such as the Covid-19, women and girls were at higher risk of experiencing intimation and other forms of domestic violence due to heightened tensions in the household.
Madam Alhassan said this on the International Women’s Day (IWD), organised by her Department, in partnership with the Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency (SWIDA), Pan African Organisation for Research and Protection of Women and Children against Violence (PAORP-VAWG) and Songtaba organisation.
The event, on the theme: Women in Leadership; Achieving an Equal Future in COVID-19 World,” was held in Tamale to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on women, and adopt workable measures to address those challenges.
She said domestic violence was high at the national and international levels, and affected various categories of women including those with unpaid care duties, the unemployed and those hard hit by poverty.
Madam Alhassan urged world leaders to act fast to address the issues before it got out of hand, adding that women leaders and women organisations had demonstrated their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively lead in the Covid-19 response and recovery and should be acknowledged.
Hajia Alima Sagito Saeed, the Executive Director of SWIDA, called on men to support women to achieve the campaign theme for the IWD; “#ChooseToChalenge”.
She said COVID-19 had disrupted economic activities, which invariably affected small and medium entreprises and their employees, compelling them to temporarily shut down businesses as well as disrupt their sources of income.
She said many couples spent more time at home during the lockdown and that affected their incomes, placing financial and psychological burden on breadwinners, who were mostly men, and translated to heightened tension, leading to violence.
Hajia Saeed urged women, globally, to take the COVID-19 vaccine, wear the nose masks, and practice hand washing with soap to reduce the spread of the disease to save more lives.
Dr Muma Bili, the Deputy Programmes Director of PAORP-VAWG, advised women to support their colleague women in leadership to enhance the development of the country and improve gender equality.
The International Women’s Day is celebrated globally to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.