Athens 7 April 2021.
The Centre for Gender Studies of Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences organized on March an Online Guest Lecture and an Online Policy Discussion Panel on the second theme of ProGender project which is about the impact of Covid-19 on Gender-based violence. The project is implemented with the cooperation of participants form Norway and Iceland too.
The first event, the Online Guest Lecture entitled “Exacerbating an already dangerous problem: Gender-based violence in COVID times”, took place on March 16, 2021. The guest speaker Brynja Elísabeth Halldórsdóttir (Assistant Professor, Department of Education and Diversity, School of Education, University of Iceland, is part of a team that do a research project for Immigrant Women’s Experience of Violence (IWEV) in Iceland, which is a survey for intimate partner violence and employment- based violence. From January 2020 to March 2021 was made a media analysis on violence, collecting newspaper articles in order to research how the Icelandic newspapers and media in general relate to gender-based violence and the pandemic. They searched key words such as domestic violence, violence against women, intimate partner violence, gender-based violence and only 191 articles fitted with the above key words. Especially only 6 references were about the relation to Covid-19 with gender-based violence, but 15 articles where with fieldworkers who were in charge or working on women shelters. As for the actions during the pandemic, the government increased the funding on domestic violence and psychological services, and there was a conversation to put psychological services under the national insurance. Workers from shelter and services were invited to newspapers and special television programs and there were 4 radio broadcasts focused on intimate partner violence and domestic violence that were on the national radio, over the last year. The chief of police was invited to announce the violence reports in the daily briefing.
Despite all these, immigrant women report less gender-based violence than Icelandic in the police, but at the same time they stay more at the women shelters. Also there is lack of services outside the larger municipality areas and consequently there were no reports of media outside the capital area and the capital of the North (Akureyri). Even though there is high representation of women in parliament, businesses, power positions, feminism movements at the same time there is gender inequality, the so-called Nordic Paradox.
The second event, the Online Policy Discussion Panel entitled “Gender-based violence during COVID-19: Challenges and Responses”, took place on March 29, 2021. The participants engaged in a discussion of gender impact during the pandemic. The participants were:
- Marta Goðadóttir, Head of Communication, National Committee UN Women Iceland. She pointed the global impact of Covid-19. Mentioned that 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in 2020 and for every three months in lockdown 15 million women expected to be affected by GBV.
- Linda Rustad, Director of Kilden, National Knowledge Center for Gender Research, Norway. She presented a research they did last year from May to June 2020, resulting that while at the beginning authorities told people to avoid contact with the health services in order not to overstrain the health care system, that caused women who were victims of domestic violence avoid contact with women shelters and all the support services such as the police. There is a need of a set of measures. The communication concerning support services has been insufficient.
- Matina Papayannopoulou, Sociologist/ Criminologist, Gender Equality Expert, Greece. She presented data from Greece about the increasing of GBV during the first wave of the pandemic. The SOS helpline 15900 has received totally 1769 calls in April, while the number of calls in March was 325. For domestic violence calls were almost four times more compared in March, when 166 calls were recorded. Counseling centers adopted the new conditions and made telephone support sessions and also had electronic communication. She pointed that government should integrate a gender perspective and prioritize the prevention of GBV, enable NGOs and women’s organizations to participate in decision making process regarding pandemic response and support vulnerable women groups, such as women with migration status who have not access to public health services.
- Sissi Vovou, Representative of Greek Feminist Collective of women rights “To Mov”. She concluded all the issues that handle the feminist movement. First she mentioned the lack of messages and advertisements about GBV and SOS helpline in the second lockdown as violence still exists. Also pointed the lack of seeking help as a reason to move in the pandemic for GBV victims. She underlined the major problems internees face at the detention centers and briefly mentioned the revision of family law about the childcare.
- Sigþrúður Guðmundsdóttir, Managing Director of Women’s Safe Shelter in Iceland. She mentioned that during the pandemic the number of police calls increased 25 % more than the previous years. Two women were killed on March and April 2020, respectively and there was a risk awareness of Violence against Women. The pandemic changed the pattern of reaction and how people respond to violence.
- Anna Michalakeli, Project Manager at “DIOTIMA” Centre for Women’s Study and Research, Greece. She underlined the impact of Covid-19 crisis to refugees and asylum seekers in Greece. The pandemic has affected disproportionally women and girls, who have been displaced. Particularly vulnerable groups of migrants and asylum seekers who are forcing to live in refugee camps in poverty with the trauma of war, the gender inequality and the coronavirus at the same time.
ProGender: A Digital Hub on Gender, the Covid-19 Crisis and its Aftermath, is funded by the European Economic Area (EEA) Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 (EEA Grants 2014-2021). The EEA Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway towards a green, competitive and inclusive Europe. There are two overall objectives: reduction of economic and social disparities in Europe, and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor countries and 15 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. The three donor countries cooperate closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). For the period 2014-2021, the EEA Grants amount to €1.55 billion.
The video of the events are uploaded on Facebook page @ProGenderproject