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Special meeting of the ESCWA Committee on Women: policy responses to protect women and girls from the impact of COVID-19

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut, 27 April 2020 (ESCWA)--The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a new reality to which the world is struggling to adapt every day. In parallel with their positive outcome in the decline of air pollution rates, “stay-at-home” policies enforced in a lot of countries have caused increases in domestic violence and unemployment rates.
In response, on 23 April 2020, ESCWA held a special online meeting of its Committee on Women, in coordination with the regional offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). The meeting, which was attended by Arab Ministers and high-level officials responsible for women’s affairs, was aimed at reviewing government policies implemented by Arab States to protect women and girls in these difficult times.
The Head of the Human Rights Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Chair of the current session of the ESCWA Committee on Women, Mr. Turki Abdallah al-Mahmoud, expressed his appreciation of the initiative and his keen interest in supporting work on women’s issues, particularly in response to the current pandemic.
Staff from ESCWA, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN-Women presented assessments of the impact of COVID-19 on the world and the region, offering targeted technical assistance to support Arab States in increasing the effectiveness of their emergency responses.
In turn, Arab State representatives highlighted the main measures implemented in their countries to protect women and girls, and indicated support needs for which they would require United Nations assistance. They stressed the importance of looking into the sectoral impact of the pandemic on the economy and determining adequate targeted response measures, since women’s economic participation is highest in sectors most affected by lockdown measures, like tourism.
ESCWA indicated that it was working on an electronic mapping tool, covering 160 countries to date, to track global policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the economic and social sectors. The tool is intended to make knowledge on the different policy options adopted in the world readily available for easy tracking and comparison, and will soon be launched.


For more information:
- Ms. Maryam Sleiman, Public Information Assistant, +961-81-769-888; email:
- Ms. Rania Harb, Public Information Assistant, +961-70-008-879; email: