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Over recent decades, there has been an increased focus on women’s leadership in humanitarian and development contexts. Evidence highlights the important role of women’s leadership in bringing ‘invaluable contextual knowledge, skills, resources and experiences to emergency preparedness, response and resilience-building.’
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The Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a devastating impact and is expected to have lasting consequences globally. As of 4 May 2020, 10,143 cases have been confirmed in Bangladesh. To date, only 21 cases have been identified in Cox’s Bazar district, which is home to over 850,000 Rohingya refugees and extremely vulnerable host communities. Although no positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in the camps, this is likely to change soon.
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Cyclone Amphan hit the south-western coastal areas of Bangladesh on 20 May 2020, causing severe destruction in Satkhira and Khulna. It was soon followed by monsoon floods, marooning over half a million people in the low-lying areas of Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat and Kurigram. Although Bangladesh is used to natural disasters, 2020 was unique since they coincided with an ongoing coronavirus pandemic that had triggered a countrywide lockdown.
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The Government of Bangladesh has committed through global and regional platforms, such as the World Humanitarian Summit, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to better integrate gender equality into DRR, humanitarian and development programmes. In achieving the desired commitments, it’s imperative that we address the different needs, participation and voices of women, men.
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The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown combined with Cyclone Amphan and the severe monsoon flooding of 2020 destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of families and individuals. Many were forced to live in terrible conditions without food, income, and shelter. In response, UN Women launched a cash assistance project delivering cash grant support and COVID-19 prevention awareness campaigns to Bangladesh’s most vulnerable households.
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In 2020, Bangladesh faced a double disaster Cyclone and COVID-19 in Khulna and Satkhira districts amongst the hardest hit. Thousands of families lost their livelihoods and incomes overnight. While the government provided direct assistance to those affected, many women and girls fell through the cracks. At the onset of the pandemic, UN Women expanded the group of NGOs that it worked with and created the Gender Monitoring Network (GMN), a network of 28 civil society organizations (CSOs) and women’s rights organizations. Organizations from the GMN supported UN Women in identifying vulnerable groups of women and girls, including transgender and sex workers, for unconditional cash assistance.
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This year the whole world was shaken by the unprecedented health and human crisis brought upon by COVID-19. Nationally as well as globally, it has been highlighted that COVID-19 has triggered a sharp increase in violence against women, particularly domestic violence, and in April the UN Secretary General called on UN Member States to step up efforts to address this “Shadow Pandemic”.
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The policy brief highlights the key barriers that women entrepreneurs and MSMEs are facing in Bangladesh; and how the overall situation deteriorated further due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The impact of COVID-19 on the Rohingya and host communities has exacerbated existing discrimination and inequalities. Women and girls face an increase in unpaid care work, greater protection risks in and out of their homes and more mental health issues, while simultaneously being less able to access lifesaving services and support.
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Around 150 people from diverse background attended a virtual discussion on Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 organized by UN Women on 19 May 2020. In the live webinar session, the experts discussed about the Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) findings which UN Women conducted recently with contributions from the GiHA member agencies-
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The civil society organizations participating in the Gender Monitoring Network facilitated by UN Women Bangladesh, are concerned by how the COVID 19 pandemic is disproportionally affecting women and girls.
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The Gender in Humanitarian Action (GiHA) Working Group in Bangladesh has undertaken this Rapid Gender Analysis to inform national preparedness and response. Given the social distancing measures, RGA desk review contrasts pre-COVID-19 gender information and demographic data against new gender information from a multitude of surveys and qualitative sources.
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The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting nationwide restricted mobility is exacerbating the pre-existing social and economic inequalities, adding more layers of barriers, discrimination and threats for women in their homes and communities. The brief reflects the situation and voices of women and gender diverse people from the ground, constantly battling against these challenges.
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This brief covers UN Women activities in the context of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response Programme in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh from January to March 2020.