Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, handed over 2,750 Dignity Kits to Nguyen Thi Ha, Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), for distribution to women at risk of gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19.
|UNFPA presenting the Dignity Kits to the authorities of Hai Duong, Hanoi, and Quang Ninh |
These sets will be sent to the Hai Duong provincial Fatherland Front, Dong Anh district’s health centre in Hanoi, and Quang Ninh Provincial social work centre.
This follows the UNFPA’s previous handovers of dignity kits to MoLISA to mitigate the negative consequences of COVID-19 for women at risk of gender-based violence (GBV) in flood-affected provinces in Vietnam. Up to now, 16,246 women at risk of violence have received the Dignity Kits.
Violence against women and children is one of the most pervasive human rights violations in the world today, and its negative impact on survivors, their families, and communities is immense. The National Study on Violence Against Women in Vietnam in 2019 showed that nearly two in three married women (almost 63 per cent) have experienced one or more forms of physical, sexual, emotional, and economic violence, and controlling behaviours by their husbands in their lifetime, and almost 32 per cent in the last 12 months. About 48 per cent of victims did not tell anyone about the violence they endured, and 90.4 per cent did not seek any help from public services. The overall productivity loss caused by violence against women was estimated at 1.81 per cent of GDP in 2018.
A pre-existing crisis of violence against women and children has been exacerbated in the context of COVID-19. Recent reports have shown that restrictions in movement, social isolation, and similar containment measures, coupled with existing or increased social and economic pressures and stress on families, have led to an increase in violence, particularly against women and children. In many countries, it is estimated that such violence has increased by at least 30 per cent.
In Vietnam, the Peace House Hotline 1900 969 680 (a shelter run by the Vietnam Women’s Union) and the Sunshine hotline 1800 1769 (as supported by the MoLISA in collaboration with the UNFPA in Quang Ninh province in partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency – KOICA) have received twice as many calls for help over the past months, compared to the same months in previous years. It has been reported that risks of physical abuse as well as sexual abuse and exploitation against women and children have increased substantially.
The Dignity Kit is a signature feature of the UNFPA's comprehensive package of humanitarian assistance to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, mitigate the risk of gender-based violence, and protect the dignity of women and girls adversely affected by a crisis.
“The UNFPA is calling on the government and partners to prioritise sexual and reproductive health of women and girls, address high risks of gender-based violence, and respond urgently to their special needs,” said Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam at the handover ceremony.
“Supporting people affected by humanitarian crises is not only the right thing but also the wise thing to do to save lives and build resilience to avoid COVID-19 from cycling back to the vulnerable people and communities around the globe. Frontline health workers must also be protected from COVID-19 and be provided with personal protective equipment to treat infected patients and continue to provide essential services,” added Kitahara.
This activity is under the government of Australia-funded project on “Supporting Interventions to Eliminate Violence against women and Children in Vietnam under COVID-19 Emergency Context”.