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Guidelines for protecting the rights of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Americas: Government responses to COVID-19 must not increase the inequality and vulnerability that women and girls already face

It is vital that the responses of governments in the Americas to the COVID-19 pandemic take into consideration the specific risks that women and girls in the region face in the current crisis and include differentiated measures to ensure that the pandemic does not increase exisiting inequality and vulnerability in the region, said Amnesty International, Women's Link Worldwide and the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) today.

The organizations published a report today with a series of recommendations to governments in the region that acts as a roadmap for government and other public authorities at a national and local level in terms of their human rights obligations to protect the rights of women and girls during the pandemic.

“Women and girls in the Americas already face the worst rates of gender-based, sexual and domestic violence in the world and now, in the context of COVID-19, their welfare is even more threatened. Our governments must act urgently to avoid the increase of gender-based violence during this crisis, and then eradicate it for good,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“Sexual and reproductive health services are now out of reach for many women and girls in our region. We cannot allow this to continue: containing COVID-19 is no excuse for abandoning them, in fact it’s a reason to prioritize them,” Guevara-Rosas concluded.

“It is in moments of crisis such as the one we are facing that women and girls suffer the greatest violations of their rights. Therefore, now more than even, as organizations we must ensure that their fundamental rights and access to justice are respected and guaranteed. This document is a roadmap to allow us to carry out this monitoring and advocacy work and demand that governments comply with their obligations and maintain their commitment to the rights and lives of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Viviana Waisman, president and CEO of Women's Link Worldwide.

“Our experience working with organizations in the Americas and the Caribbean has shown that the effects of this pandemic on those who are most vulnerable can be compared to the effects of a humanitarian crisis. It is therefore essential that, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual and reproductive health services are included as essential health services. In order to achieve this, we remain ever more dedicated to defending human rights and to our partner organizations, to guarantee that women and girls have access to the resources and care that they need,” said Giselle Carino, CEO and regional director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region.

For the media, the document can be used as a list of minimum indicators to measure government responses during the pandemic in relation to their obligations to the rights of women and girls.

Spokespeople from Amnesty International, Women's Link Worldwide and the International Planned Parenthood Federation are available for interviews.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Duncan Tucker: duncan.tucker@amnesty.org