SCORE Holds International Webinar on Transformative Role of Women During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled all sectors of society  to face new realities, particularly women as they face increased financial difficulties as well as having more responsibilities with children’s education at home which, for many, is now both the work place and learning space. Women in our society have the  extra burden of providing caregiving to their immediate and  extended family.

Also, an increase in domestic violence is reported due to tensions and frustrations building up at home with the lockdown. Women in different segments of society are facing increased vulnerabilities and experience physical and mental assault. Women who are already at risk  due to the work they do are further marginalized and accused of perpetrating the virus spread. There is also a lack in engagement with women’s issues in different sectors where patriarchy is  the norm.

Given these realities, it  is important to also engage men in this discourse to eliminate gender- based violence (GBV) and find a holistic approach to foster the wellbeing of women and girls. Policies are also needed to drive the campaign against GBV  by improving health, education and the justice system.

SCORE conducted a webinar to address these issues under the theme, ‘”Transformative Role of Women during COVID-19 and Beyond: Challenges & Opportunities,”  while also marking the UN-declared 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence from November 25 to December 10, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and  Human Rights Day. The panelists were Pubudu De Zoysa - District Governor – 2022-23 for Sri Lanka & Maldives, Rotary International District 3220, Hon. Rehaan Wijeratne Jayawickreme - Chairman of the Weligama Urban Council, Rebecca Surenthiraraj – Senior Researcher, Social Scientists Association (SSA), and Shyamala Gomez - Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Equality and Justice (CEJ), moderated by SCORE Senior Technical Specialist Dr. Dayani Panagoda. The guest speakers were Betty Adera – Chief of Party, Global Communities, Kenya, Sushmita Mukherjee – Director, Gender and Adolescent Girls, Project Concern International, Dr. Aref Abdulrazaq - Gender and Social Inclusion Manager, Global Communities, Yemen. 

The webinar brought together 278 different stakeholders from Sri Lanka and abroad to have a conversation on addressing GBV. . Former and present SCORE grantees, worldwide Global Communities projects’ implementers, development partners in Sri Lanka, youth groups and Civil Society Organizations and SCORE staff participated.

The webinar highlighted different aspects to consider when addressing GBV and promoting the wellbeing of women and girls. The negativity surrounding women migrant workers and garment factory workers, and the need for this to be considered in the larger discourses that scar women was also discussed. Participants also discussed  the role of the state and structural changes in ensuring women’s issues, the need to engage both men and women at the early stages of growth starting from preschool age and continue throughout to universities, engaging all sectors in gender issues, promoting values based education and curriculum revision, increasing women’s access to technology, legal reforms especially to amend the Bribery Act to recognize requests for sexual favors as an offense, increase women’s support services including services at grassroots such as midwives role, need to upgrade women’s skills to adapt to new realities and explore new opportunities, allow women to exercise leadership and be active as they have shown during the pandemic, removing barriers hindering them to become active and the role of society to address domestic violence were some of the topics discussed.

A policy brief will be compiled from the discussion and shared with key stakeholders to enable the recommendations to translate into action plans.

The webinar was streamed live on Global Communities Facebook page.