The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender-Based Violence

A woman stands with her child at an undisclosed shelter in the New York City area on Oct. 25, 2018. (Photo by Damon Dahlen/HuffPost). 

Date: November  19, 2020
Time: 1:30-3:00PM CAT 


Gender based violence (GBV), caused by unequal power relations between men and women, is a human rights violation that affects more than 30% of girls and women.GBV takes on various forms such as but not limited to child marriage, intimate partner violence and female genital mutilation that reinforce gender inequity. The impact of GBV ranges from immediate to long-term physical, sexual, mental and emotional consequences, and even death in the most extreme circumstances. At the societal level, the World Bank estimates that there is a social and economic cost that negatively impacts a country’s GDP by up to 3.7%. Emergency situations such as wars and health crises exacerbate the violence against girls and women. During the COVID-19 pandemic, enforced prevention measures such as quarantine and isolation have reduced women’s mobility resulting in their increased exposure to abusers at home and an increase in teenage pregnancies.


A panel of prominent leaders and experts from different backgrounds will set out to explore the effects of COVID-19 on GBV. The panel will aim to offer an opportunity to share evidence, promising practices, and lessons learned on the elimination of violence against women and the impact of COVID-19 on GBV, and discuss the implications of gender inequity for female health professionals in the context of pandemics. The session will also explore, from a global, regional, and local perspective, what different institutions- private, government, and civil society are doing to strengthen the leadership and advocacy for eliminating GBV during this pandemic and beyond.



Tsion Yohannes Waka,

Director, Center for Gender Equity, UGHE

Tsion Yohannes Waka joins the UGHE team as a faculty and the Chair of the Center for Gender Equity in February 2020. Tsion is responsible for mainstreaming gender in the academic, research, and community development projects of UGHE. Before this role, Tsion was engaged with UGHE as the chief organizer for Women Leaders in Global Health Conference of 2019. Prior to joining University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda, Tsion was engaged in production of a Preliminary Gender Profile of Ethiopia and a National Assessment on Accessibility and Availability of Rehabilitative and Reintegration Services for Survivors of Violence for UN Women Ethiopia, among various researches.  She has also been working for 16 years as a gender expert and consultant with a number of international and local non-governmental and government organizations through participating in community engagement projects, conducting researches, evaluations, gender analysis, audit and impact assessments in relation to various thematic areas such as reproductive health, child rights and other development issues. Her roles also included giving trainings on gender-based violence, gender equality and gender mainstreaming to schools, university students, community members and technical staff in international and local NGOs. Some of the organizations she has previously worked with include Addis Ababa University, World Bank, UNWomen Ethiopia, Fredrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Women in Self-Employment (WISE), Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED), Menschen Fuer Menschen, Mary Joy Aid Through Development, USAID- ATEP, Oxfam Canada and Novib, British Council etc.


Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, MD, M(Ped), PHD

Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity (UGHE).

Professor Agnes Binagwaho is a Rwandan pediatrician who returned to Rwanda in July of 1996, two years after the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. Since then, she has provided clinical care in the public sector, served the Rwandan Health Sector (2001-2016) in high-level government positions, first as the Executive Secretary of Rwanda’s National AIDS Control Commission, then as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, and 5 years as Minister of Health. She co-founded the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), an initiative of Partners In Health, which focuses on changing how health care is delivered around the world by training global health professionals who strive to deliver more equitable, quality health services for all. Professor Binagwaho currently resides in Rwanda and is the Vice -Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity. She is specialized in emergency pediatrics, neonatology, and the treatment of HIV/AIDS. She completed her MD at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles and her MA in Pediatrics at the Universite de Bretagne Occidentale. She was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from Dartmouth College and earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Rwanda College of Medicine. Professor Binagwaho currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization, and as a member of multiple Advisory Board and Board of Directors including the Rockefeller Foundation Board. She is a member of a number of international working groups and task forces in global health for the United Nations and independent organizations and also sits on the Editorial Board of several scientific journals and serves on multiple scientific commissions. Previously, she co-chaired the Millennium Development Goal Project Task Force on HIV/AIDS and Access to Essential Medicines for the Secretary-General of the United Nations under the leadership of Professor Jeffrey Sachs (MGGs). Professor Binagwaho also co-chaired the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS (JLICA) (2006–09) and founded the Rwandan Pediatric Society, chairing it until 2019. Since 2016, she has been a member of the American National Academy of Medicine and since 2017 a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. In 2015, Professor Binagwaho received the annual Roux Prize and Ronald McDonald House Charities Award of Excellence. She is currently a senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a Professor of Pediatrics at UGHE, as well as an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. Professor Binagwaho’s academic engagements include research in implementation sciences, research on human rights to health, health services delivery systems strengthening, HIV/AIDS, and pediatric care. She has published over 190 peer- reviewed articles and has recently been nominated in Avance Media’s 2020 100 Most Influential Women in Africa List.

Rose Rwabuhihi,

Head of Gender Monitoring Office, Rwanda

Ms. Rose Rwabuhihi currently serves as the head of the Gender Monitoring Office, a government institution entrusted to contribute to ensure accountability of public, private institutions in implementing Gender Equality in Rwanda. In addition, Ms. Rose has worked for more than 15 years with the UN in several countries in Africa and the United States of America. She has extensive working experience with Research institutions, and NGO. The main focus of her work has been to promote Gender equality, Women’s Rights in development with specific focus on Governance, Peace and security and Violence against Women. Ms. Rose Rwabuhihi academic background is in Communication for development and she holds a High Diploma in journalism. She speaks English and French.

Illian Hawie,

Lawyer and Specialist in Gender and Family violence 

Illian Hawie has a bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Lima, a Master’s degree in Public Management and a Magister’s degree in Constitutional Law from the National University Federico Villareal. Teacher and Researcher, Gender violence specialist, author of several book as: “Gender Violence”, “Sexual Harassment and Femicide”, “Family Jurisprudence Manual”. Worked for 8 years in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Vulnerable Populations as, General Director Against Gender Violence and Executive Director of the National Program Against Violence in Family and Sexual Violence. She has dedicated her labor to the protection of children and women against Gender Violence and she strives for the economic, and political empowerment of women as a key factor in sustainable development.

Jeanne Flora Kayitesi

Senior Program Officer, Gender Directorate at the African Union Commission’s Women, Gender and Development Directorate.

Jeanne Flora Kayitesi is currently a Senior Program Officer within the Gender Directorate at the African Union Commission’s Women, Gender and Development Directorate. Her principal responsibility is to ensure outreach and interaction on gender issues with African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), AU Organs, private sectors and civil society organizations. Jeanne Flora Kayitesi has a multi-disciplinary education background. In addition to a Master’s Degree in Public Law and Political Science, she holds Master’s Degree in Peace and Security. Prior to joining AUC, Jeanne Flora Kayitesi has occupied senior positions in different  International, Regional and Local Organizations dealing with the promotion and protection of women’s rights, Children’s rights and human’s rights in general  and has amassed a remarkable mix of experience for more than 25 years.

Dr. Eugene Richardson,

Assistant Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School 

Dr. Richardson previously served as the clinical lead for Partners in Health’s Ebola response in Kono District, Sierra Leone, where he continues to conduct research on the social epidemiology of Ebola virus disease. He also worked as a clinical case management consultant for the WHO’s Ebola riposte in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo. More recently, he was seconded to the Africa CDC to join their COVID-19 response. His overall focus is on biosocial approaches to epidemic disease prevention, containment, and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of this effort, he is chair of the Lancet Commission on Reparations and Redistributive Justice.”

Chay Brown,

Research and Program Coordinator, Equality Institute

Chay Brown is from Mparntwe/Alice Springs in Australia. Chay is a Research and Program Coordinator at The Equality Institute and a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University. She has been researching violence against women for ten years, and has lived experience of domestic, family, and sexual violence.  Her PhD research focused on what works to prevent violence against women. Chay has led safety mapping exercises with women in town camps in Alice Springs; and led the development of the Northern Territory specific violence prevention framework ‘Hopeful, Together, Strong’.

Prof. Prabha Chandra,

Professor & Former Head of Psychiatry at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and President Elect, International Association of Women’s Mental Health

Prabha Chandra, MD, FRCP(Edinburgh), FRCPsych, FAMS, is Professor and previous Head of Psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India. She has served as a Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS and is President-Elect of the International Association of Women’s Mental Health. She has been an investigator in several research projects related to women’s mental health and is co-author of the World Psychiatric Association Curriculum on Intimate partner and sexual violence.  She established the first dedicated perinatal psychiatry service, including a Mother Baby Unit in South Asia for mothers with severe mental illness. Professor Chandra, as a renowned global expert on women’s mental health, will share insights gained from her research and clinical practice during the pandemic to reflect on the impact of the pandemic on mental health of women and girls experiencing violence and abuse in low- and middle-income countries.

Diana Ofwona,

UNDP Resident Representative, Niger

Diana Ofwona is the Resident Representative of UNDP in Niger since April 2019. As the main interlocuter with the Government of Niger on behalf of UNDP, her key assignment is to provide substantive leadership for sustainable and inclusive development, with particular focus on AU Agenda 2063 and UN Agenda 2030. She is also responsible for formulating the overall UNDP Country Strategy for Niger; mobilize resources and partnerships for Niger’s development agenda and provide strategic guidance and oversight for UNDP’s operations in Niger. A leader and senior international development practitioner, she has demonstrated capacity to shape and lead transformative socio-economic policy. Often described as an influencer, prolific speaker, and coach, Ms. Ofwona has served on several high-level boards and committees, notably the UN high- level Strategy and Management Review Panel commissioned to develop a new strategy for UNDP in Africa.