By Lameck Kwalimba
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says services on gender based violence (GBV) should continue operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic to save girls and women from the vice.
The UN agency’s Resident Representative, Ms. Young Hong was speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday when she handed over 60 motorbikes and 940 bicycles (including spare parts) to Ministry of Gender, Child and Community Development.
The donation, worth US$284 000 (over MK209 million), will enhance provision of GBV services, especially by enhancing out-reach programs to girls and women who are usually the most affected, especially during outbreaks.
“Gender based violence requires mobility of the service provider to reach out to those women and girls affected by the virus.
“So in the rural areas, it’s difficult for women and girls to reach those service providers. The service provider also needs to have means to travel to reach out to those girls and women,” said Hong.
“So that’s why these bicycles and motorbikes are handed over today to be used by the frontline service providers to be able to serve girls and women against GBV,” she added.
In April, a UK based news outlet, The Guardian, reported that UK had registered 120 per cent increase in incidents of domestic violence since COVID-19 lockdowns started.
South Africa’s Times, an online news outlet also reported that police received 87, 000 complaints related to GBV in just the first seven days of lockdown.
UNFPA’S donation of motorbikes and bicycles, and spare parts to the Gender Ministry is with support from European Union (EU) through the Spotlight Initiative whose aim is to eliminate gender based violence.
According to Hong, the expectation is that the donation will help service providers reach out to 2.8 million affected women, girls, men and boys directly and 8.2 million indirectly.
On her part, Minister of Gender, Child and Community Development, Mary Navicha said the donation is timely-when government is fighting the Coronavirus.
“My ministry is leading a social protection structure in a committee of COVID-19 presidential taskforce and we have several programs including fighting for women and girls, persons with disability and other vulnerable groups.
“So, the coming in of this donation will really assist our cluster,” said the minister.
Chief Director for Local Government and Rural Development, Ernest Kantchentche advised local councils who are custodians of the items to take proper care of them to ensure they serve their intended purpose.-MANA