How can business respond to an increase in gender based violence during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Join us for an online written discussion with a panel of experts to explore how business can respond to an increase in gender based violence during the COVID-19 outbreak

Live Panel

Monday 6 April, 10am-11am EDT (3pm-4pm BST/ 5pm-6pm EAT) [ADD TO CALENDAR]


Gender Based Violence (GBV), particularly domestic violence and sexual harassment, are already a challenge for business - resulting in significant impacts on worker wellbeing, losses to productivity and reputation.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and ‘stay at home’ regulations, domestic violence and online bullying and harassment are expected to rise. In the UK, for example, Avon and Somerset police reported a 20.9% increase in domestic abuse incidents during the first two weeks of lockdown. In previous emergencies, including the earthquake in New Zealand, there was a 53% rise in domestic violence and nearly a doubling in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

This increase in violence will be happening at a time of reduced capacity of service providers (health, police, social care) to cope with the increased demand.


  • Seyi Akiwowo, Founder, Glitch
  • Alice Allan, Challenge Director, Business Fights Poverty
  • Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships, UN Women
  • Chiara Condi, Gender Expert and Founder, Led by HER
  • Natalie Deacon, Executive Director Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, President Avon Foundation for Women, Avon
  • Raquel Lagunas, Senior Policy Advisor on Gender Mainstreaming, United Nations Development Programme
  • Ludo McFerron, University of Sydney
  • Verity O’Shaughnessy, Partnerships Manager, Care International
  • Dr Jane Pillinger, Visiting Senior Research fellow, Open University
  • Victoria Spencer, Social Development Adviser, Violence Against Women and Girls Team, Department for International Development
  • Lee Webster, Deputy Director International Development Policy and Practice, ActionAid UK


  1. Why is there likely to be an increase in gender based violence during the COVID-19 outbreak and will the impacts be for individuals and business across the value chain?

  2. What can companies do to support employees internally - what new policies and processes need to be put in place?

  3. How can companies harness their core business strategies including marketing and innovation as well as philanthropy to respond to the increase in violence?


This is a text-based discussion. There will be no video or audio. Please post your comments below. After the live session, this discussion will remain open, so please do continue to share your insights. To receive a free summary of this discussion afterwards, register here

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Hi, we are looking forward to starting this online written discussion in a little under ten minutes.

If you are trying to login and having any troubles, please do email: directly. Thank you


Hi there, Lee Webster here from ActionAid UK, I lead our policy, funding and programmes on women’s rights. Look forward to joining the discussion this afternoon.


Hi All, I’m Natalie Deacon, head of corporate affairs at Avon and president of the Avon Foundation for Women. We’re in the thick of our response to the spike in domestic violence caused by the C19 pandemic. Looking forward to the discussion.


Hi everyone! Jane Pillinger here, I work as a gender expert on the issue of gender-based violence int he world of work, and work with companies, international organisations, workers and unions to find solutions to end sexual harassment and domestic violence when it impacts on the workplace.


Hi everyone

I’m Chiara, I work as a gender equality expert, and I also have my own nonprofit Led By HER that helps women who have suffered from violence.


Hi all. I am Dean Laplonge, the senior GBV specialist at Factive Consulting, supporting large financial institutions and businesses to develop GBV assessment and monitoring systems, covering both workplaces and affected communities. Looking forward to the discussion.


Hi everyone, I’m Verity O’Shaughnessy, I’m a partnerships manager within CARE’s private sector engagement team. The team focuses on building strategic partnerships with the private sector to develop more gender-inclusive business models. I have a focus on gender and GBV throughout the value chain to co-create and manage programmes designed to deliver social outcomes rooted in core business.


Nice to see you Jane - hope all is well.


It’s a pleasure to participate in this online discussion today. Thank you for prioritizing gender! My name is Anita Bhatia, I am the Deputy Executive Director at UN Women. UN Women is the global convener on gender equality and the UN entity working for the empowerment of women. This is a critical year for Gender Equality – an accelerating moment toward achieving SDG5- and COVID-19 has brought to the fore how critical gender equality is every day and especially in times of crisis. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.


Im Alice Allan, a Challenge Director with Business Fights Poverty and over the last year, i’ve completed two reports with our partners - one looking at ‘How to tackle GBV at work’, with Anglo American, IFC, CARE and Primark and the other ‘How to engage men as allies for gender equality across the value chain’ with ABInBev, CARE and Stanford University’s VMWare Women’s leadership Innovation Lab. I’m currently pulling together an activation tool for companies to help them think through how to respond to the increase in violence during C-19. Im particularly interested in working out how we translate the rich research materials out there into practical guidance for business - both short and longer term responses.


Great to have you with us Dean!

Hi everyone - Zahid here. I’m the CEO of Business Fights Poverty. Looking forward to this important discussion.

Hi Dean, you too! Looking forward to this discussion.

Hello, Welcome to the LIVE portion of this online discussion.

If you haven’t already, please could you introduce yourself here.

We’ll then ask our first question in a moment or two

Hi there, I am Victoria Spencer, a social development adviser in the Violence Against Women and Girls team in DFID. We have published this evidence review of how COVID-19 may increase violence against women and girls, and I am looking forward to discussing the important role business can take in responding to that increase.


Our first questions today:

  1. Why is there likely to be an increase in gender based violence during the COVID-19 outbreak and will the impacts be for individuals and business across the value chain?
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'ello everyone!!

My name is Seyi! Founder and Executive Director of Glitch which is a small charity dedicated to ending online abuse and championing digital citizenship. Glitch was founded shortly facing horrendous online abuse and violence. We work around the globe developing practical solutions with Governments, NGOs, UN Human Rights Council and tech companies to protect our online public spaces from hate and abuse.

Super excited to be here


Hello All - Mario Elias, Responsible Business and Shared Value Sr. Advisor at CEMEX.

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Thanks Katie, part of the challenge will be that women disproportionately hold jobs in industries with poor protections and few benefits, such as paid family leave and paid sick leave. Therefore, if women cannot work, they do not get paid. Of course, it is not only women workers who face these challenges: millions of workers, entrepreneurs and farmers worldwide are already confronting severely restricted access to income and livelihoods. At CARE, we know that economic insecurity and income stresses on households increase the risk of violence within the home while the need to find income puts women at increased risk of exploitation including sexual violence.

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