During the COVID-19 pandemic, many faith actors are on the frontline. The Anglican Communion is standing together with religious leaders and faith-based actors around the world to advocate to governments and civil society, for urgent responses that protect women’s rights and achieve gender equality.
The crisis does not operate in a vacuum and, as a result, the pandemic is increasing pre-existing gender inequalities. Around the world, gender roles have a marked impact on exposure, transmission, and outcome patterns of COVID-19. Women and girls are experiencing intersecting injustices in political, social and economic spheres.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence
In the statement published today, Faith in Beijing, who are a collective of religious actors and faith-based networks, call for COVID-19 responses to include strategies to address and prevent Sexual and Gender Based Violence. Under lockdown policies, many women are forced to stay at homes where they are not safe or secure. They are forced to live with abusive partners or parents, while services to survivors of gender-based violence are harder to access. In some communities around the world, violence against women during the pandemic has been perpetrated by the security agencies enforcing the lockdown, using undue force.
Faith on the Frontline
Faith communities have a strong base from which to promote social distancing (to reduce transmission of the virus causing COVID-19), while also practicing solidarity. Many religious actors hold significant power and trust, sometimes more than the government. Thus, religious institutions can play a vital role in distributing accurate key public health information to their communities. Religious leaders can play a positive role in promoting messages of gender justice, challenging stigma and harmful gender norms.
Equality and Justice for All
As business as usual is paused, we have an opportunity to reflect upon the brokenness in our world and our economic system. In these spaces, we can begin to imagine a world rooted in equality and justice for all. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how globally interconnected we are and how gender injustice reveals itself at an individual and a collective level.
An international delegation representing the Anglican Communion as well as Mandy Marshall, the new Director for Gender Justice at the Anglican Communion Office, was due to participate in the UN Commission on the Status of Women 64 along with other Faith in Beijing members. While the international gathering of UN Member States and civil society was postponed last month, our work for gender justice remains important, to ensure a just and sustainable future for all.