Press Release: As impact of COVID-19 intensifies, UN Women calls for concrete actions to respond to the concurrent shadow pandemic


Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Albania, lit in orange at the opening of the 16 Days of Activism. Photo: UN Women Albania/Eduard Pagria
Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Albania, lit in orange at the opening of the 16 Days of Activism. Photo: UN Women Albania/Eduard Pagria

As the COVID-19 pandemic and a prevailing culture of impunity threatens progress achieved on gender equality and ending violence against women and girls, UN Women is calling for robust and decisive action in response to this unprecedented crisis on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The Government, UN Agencies, civil society, youth, and the private sector will join the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a national mobilization campaign that runs from today until 10 December under the theme: Listen, Believe, Support.

In a year like no other, violence against women has intensified drastically, and ending this shadow pandemic requires the support of each actor and each one of us, to listen to survivors, believe them and support with more investment, leadership and action.

Even before COVID-19, violence against women was one of the most widespread violations of human rights, with almost one in two women in Albania experiencing at least one form of violence during their lifetime. During COVID-19, calls to the national counseling line for women and girls (116117) increased 60% in April, compared to last year. This year there have been 2986 women and girls who reported domestic violence to the police. The number of sexual violence cases treated at Lilium center has been 64.

‘We must break the silence that is still surrounding gender based-violence in our society: victims of abuse should never feel at fault’ says Michele Ribotta, Country Representative at UN Women Albania.

The 16 Days of Activism will feature more than 250 activities organized around the country in online and offline spaces. Hundreds of Albanian companies and institutions have joined UN Women’s call to orange their virtual spaces to mark the 16 Days of Activism and are supporting women survivors of violence with philanthropic initiatives. UN Women has just completed the first training of trainers on empowerment self-defense for 14 social workers from women's organizations who have described the experience as ‘lifechanging’. Other events include a webinar on gender stereotypes in the media with experience sharing from Italy; training on online harassment with school students; visual and audio exhibition of real stories of gender violence; forums with religious communities; community information sessions on available services for survivors. UN Women’s engagement in the campaign is supported by the Government of Sweden and the EU.

As in previous years, buildings such as the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the UN House and Reja will be lit in orange to call for a brighter future where women and girls can live free from violence.