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During pandemics, women and girls remain among the most severely affected population group – with a heightened need for health and protection services.

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence from studies undertaken globally highlights a strong correlation between COVID-19 and a spike in gender-based violence (GBV) cases affecting women and girls. Stress, limited mobility and livelihood disruptions increases women and girl’s vulnerability to violence and exploitation.

As part of the GRZ/UN Joint Programme on Gender-Based Violence, supported by Governments of Sweden and Ireland, UNFPA is supporting key actions aimed at integrating the needs of women and girls affected by GBV in national emergency responses. In March 2021, this support included the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 personal protective equipment and hygiene products for use in GBV One-Stop Centre’s in Lusaka.

In statements and messages delivered at the official handover ceremony held at the University Teaching Hospital GBV One Stop Centre, Minister of Gender Hon. Elizabeth Phiri MP; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Kennedy Malama; Head of Development at the Embassy of Ireland in Zambia Mr. Pronch Murray; as well as UNFPA Representative Ms. Gift Malunga underscored the critical need to ensure continuity of services for women and girls affected by GBV amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including the integration of GBV response in existing health services.

The GRZ/UN Joint Programme on GBV aims to contribute to a reduction of GBV prevalence in the target districts by focusing on (1) strengthening access and utilization of GBV responsive services and (2) empowering GBV survivors, persons at risk and communities to break the cycle of abuse by challenging the culture of abuse and silence.