Press Release

Action Plan on Improving Responses to Gender-based Violence During COVID-19 Discussed as National Roundtable bring together High-level representatives from the Government of Myanmar, Civil Society Organizations and UN Agencies

16 October 2020

Senior representatives from the Myanmar Government, UN Agencies, and civil society came together today to discuss strategies for increasing coordination on gender-based violence (GBV) in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The roundtable provided a unique forum for GBV response actors to discuss their experiences addressing GBV during the pandemic, and to jointly develop a strategic action plan to improve responses to GBV in the coming months. UNODC and UNFPA organized the roundtable in light of the increasing need to address new coordination challenges which have emerged as a result of COVID-19, while risks and incidence of GBV were also growing in parallel, and to provide a forum to agree to coordinated responses which could quickly be put in place to mitigate some of the emerging GBV prevention and response challenges.

“Coordinated multi-sectoral GBV prevention and response are critical to meet the diverse needs of GBV survivors and support their healing, reintegration and empowerment based on a survivor-centered approach,” emphasized UNFPA Representative for Myanmar, Ramanathan Balakrishnan. “During COVID-19, its importance is even more paramount. The fact that we are all here today demonstrates our willingness and commitment to work together and complement each other to ensure safety, protection and dignity of vulnerable women and girls in Myanmar.”

Gender-based violence is a significant challenge facing Myanmar in normal circumstances, but as COVID-19 restrictions have made implementing a coordinated response more difficult, it has also brought together, at an unprecedented scale, a variety of stress factors, such as lockdown and curfew policies, put in place to curb the spread of the virus; the disruption of economic, social and protective networks; sudden changes in family functioning; increased substance abuse; and decreased access to services.  As a result, a number of participants at the roundtable highlighted that incidence of GBV has been increasing, with some expressing alarm over the growing number of reports being received.

While COVID-19 has created challenges, participants at the workshop agreed improved coordination could significantly improve the situation.

“Through working together, we truly believe we can move towards having a country where incidences of GBV decline each year, and that within several years, our cooperation will lead to a Myanmar where no individual is living in fear of domestic violence,” highlighted Ms. Moe Hnin Lwin, Director at the Union Attorney General’s Office. “GBV is a profound issue that cannot be solved by one organization alone, and today’s roundtable is a step forward in this regard.”  

Participants from other government agencies, including the Myanmar Police Force, the Supreme Court of the Union, the Department of Social Welfare, and the Ministry of Health and Sports, as well as leading Myanmar civil society groups, echoed this sentiment and endorsed closer collaboration moving forward.

 “Today’s roundtable was an important opportunity to get a clear picture of the GBV situation across Myanmar, and to agree on steps to improve coordination between all actors along the GBV response chain,” said Benedikt Hofmann, UNODC Country Manager. “The ideas put forward today represent a meaningful plan of action for improving these responses, and will contribute to making Myanmar a safer place where fewer individuals live under threat of violence.”  

UN Agencies in attendance – UNODC, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women - committed to working with all partners to implement the recommendations put forward by participants and to continuing to support the Government of Myanmar and civil society in their efforts to further strengthen GBV prevention and response. Moving forward, all participants agreed to continuing the discussion and to quickly implement recommendations as COVID-19 related challenges continue across the country.

 

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Ryan Winch

Ryan.Winch@un.org
Programme Coordinator

UNODC Country Office Myanmar

Mobile: +95 975 016 7259

 

Ms. Eri Taniguchi

taniguchi@unfpa.org

Gender Equality/GBV Programme Specialist

UNFPA Myanmar

Mobile: +95 9890992304