GBV & Social Protection in COVID-19 and beyond – evidence & emerging practice


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, social protection has proven to be an essential and significant part of the COVID-19 response, with a total of 200 countries/territories planning or implementing 1055 social protection measures. However early analysis indicated that few of these measures are gender-sensitive. Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, reports indicate that Gender-Based Violence has also been increasing, in what is now being deemed as the shadow pandemic affecting women and girls around the world, leaving many practitioners with the question of what role social protection can have in supporting girls and women facing violence. 

When households and communities are placed under strain, face increased economic pressure, and activities such as school are disrupted, the risk of multiple forms of violence can increase - as evidenced in previous pandemics.  Alongside poverty-related stress and other factors that can be drivers for GBV, COVID-19-related measures such as lockdown and quarantine can limit survivors' ability to escape violent situations, and the closure of support services and diversion of public health resources is exacerbating the problem in some countries. 

GBV is a violation of human rights and the impact of violence and fear of violence shape people's lives - particularly for girls and women. It has an impact on health, education and economic empowerment outcomes, and has a significant economic and social cost to societies. In recent research, cash transfers have been identified as an effective intervention to address gender-based violence, in some contexts. However, in some cases the risk of backlash and increased violence has also been identified, indicating the need for a nuanced, evidence-based, and context-specific response. This webinar provided a more in-depth look at the role of social protection in responding to gender-based violence during COVID-19, it explored:

  • What do we already know about the role of social protection measures and their impact on GBV? 
  • Which role can social protection policies and programmes play in the current crisis? 
  • What can social protection and gender equality practitioners do to minimise risks and maximise the preventative potential of social protection?



Lori Heise, Professor of Social Epidemiology and member of the Cash and Intimate Partner Violence Research Collaborative  

Melissa Alvarado, Ending Violence against Women Programme Manager, UN Women  

Lorena Fuentes, Co-founder and Principal, Ladysmith  

Natalia Winder-Rossi, Associate Director, Social Policy, UNICEF  



Caren Grown, World Bank Global Director, Gender  


This was the thirty-first webinar of the “Social protection responses to COVID-19” webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by the IPC-IGGIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Australia Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) collaboration with the platform, and in cooperation with partners from different organisations. Join the online community ''Social protection responses to COVID-19 [Task force]'' to learn more about the initiative and future webinars.

The SPIAC-B Gender Working Group, consisting of representatives from several agencies, including UNICEF, DFID, FAO, IPC-IG, UNICEF Innocenti, UN Women among others, is organising webinars of the larger Social Protection responses to COVID-19 webinar series. You can join the Gender-Responsive Social Protection Online Community if you are interested in learning about the gender impacts of COVID-19.