CAIRO – 2 March 2021: Regional Director for the Arab States at UN Women Susanne Mikhaïl said Tuesday in 2nd edition of Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development that "the more acute a crisis is, the more discrimination increases."
That was in the session titled, "From the Sidelines to the Frontlines: Advancing the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda During the Pandemic and Beyond.
Speaking of issues facing women, Mikail pointed out that a large number of women lost their jobs. As for stability-related matters, the international officials said that there are signs of regression in the areas of peace and security.
"When peace processes consist of more women, they’re more likely to hold out," Mikhail underscored.
Special Envoy on Women, Peace, and Security at African Union Commission Bineta Diop pointed out that violence against women rose during the pandemic. As for economic status, Diop added that women working in the informal sector lost their source of income.
Removing barriers to women’s access to education and healthcare is crucial, Diop said stressing the necessity of providing safety and security to women.
"Women leadership matters as women are even able to manage men well because they care about the community first," Diop said.
Regarding the COVID-19 crisis, "NGOs in Africa successfully shared experience on responding to the crisis such as distributing masks to back the protective measures set by their countries," the special envoy highlighted.
"African states have to adopt a holistic approach to the impact of the pandemic tapping on economic and social aspects," Diop underlined.
President of Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) Maya Morsy clarified the four areas Egypt addressed to fulfill women needs during the pandemic
The first aspect is human capital by ensuring female students do not drop out of education; offering healthcare pertinent to family planning, pregnant women, disabled women, and aged women; as well as, psychological support
The second pillar is involving women affairs in various socioeconomic measures taken in response to the pandemic, and raising women’s awareness on such measures.
The third pillar is mitigating economic impact on working women who either lost their jobs or their income has been cut.
The fourth pillar is data and knowledge focusing on communicating to women ways of avoiding infection and dealing with it, if it occurs
"When COVID-19 broke out, we launched an observer to determine women’s needs, and decisions that respond to such needs, Morsi stated saying Egypt has had 160 relevant decisions.
"Egypt ranked first by UN in measures taken to protect women from repercussions during the pandemic," Morsi underlined.
Other areas the NCW is working on are issuing national IDs for more women who don’t have ones; securing facilities to host women subject to domestic violence; and, articulating legislations that would enable women to maintain their jobs when they have children, Morsi clarified.
In another context, Founder and CEO of Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) Mavic Cabrera-Balleza highlighted that $1.9 trillion were spent on arm deals in 2020 globally and that two billion people live in areas experiencing violence around the globe.
"Sustainable peace requires equality, healthcare and education for all," Cabrera-Balleza added.
“Equitable access to digital technologies is a must either....Internet is now accessible to merely 19% of the population in Africa,” Cabrera-Balleza showcased.
Regarding the obstacles faced by women, “Women promoting gender equality are subject to harassment...The UN had asserted the need to protect women peacebuilders,” Cabrera-Balleza asserted.
As financing is one way to empower women, Cabrera-Balleza said there is a need "to increase funding to women’s rights organizations and not just funding to particular programs.”