Closing the Funding Gap for Women-Focused Organizations Responding to COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific
In the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the disproportionate impact on women and girls has been severe across the region. As previously highlighted in a regional analysis, the pandemic has particularly affected women and girls by exacerbating burdens of unpaid care work, increasing risks of gender-based violence (GBV), impacting livelihoods of women disproportionately especially in the informal sector, and reducing access to sexual and reproductive health. At the same time that the pandemic heightens the needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls, women-focused organizations (WFOs) that serve them have highlighted severe operational and funding challenges. Those challenges threaten to roll back hard-earned gains in gender equality, women’s participation in decisionmaking, and the empowerment of girls in the region. As early as April 2020, 71 per cent of WFOs reported that COVID-19 was affecting them somewhat or very negatively, with 12 per cent suspending activities altogether. Similar trends persist for organizations serving diverse gender populations. The Asia-Pacific Transgender Network reported that all of their project partners expressed concern about how to sustain operational costs of their organizations which provide critical services to transgender people in the region. The Southeast Asia Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression Caucus (ASEAN SOGIE Caucus) reported that donors supporting several groups focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people had backed out from agreed funding, placing organizational continuity at risk in a time where services are most needed.