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Coronavirus and women’s shelters: Planning, preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) and Asian Network of Women’s Shelters jointly organized a webinar on “Coronavirus and women’s shelters: Planning, preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic” on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 8-9:30PM Taiwan time (8-9:30AM Eastern Time US & Canada)

The rapid spread of coronavirus/COVID-19 has created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis around the world. As with most disasters, women and girls are likely to be disproportionately affected.

The outbreak presents huge challenges for shelters in terms of safety and training for staff, protection of clients, measures to contain an outbreak within a facility, helping staff work remotely while still supporting victims, and ensuring adequate resources are in place. In addition, as families are encouraged or forced to stay at home, women and children who are vulnerable to domestic abuse will be at greater risk.

In this webinar, we invited shelter organizations from Taiwan and other countries around the world to share best practices and current developments in the battle against COVID-19. Topics of discussion included:

shelter health and safety guidelines,
response principles and control measures,
experiences from other epidemic situations,
use of technology,
how to help shelter staff work from home,
strategies to deal with city, state or national lockdowns,
protecting client confidentiality,
advice for other GBV prevention programs

Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong have been praised for their efforts to curtail the spread of coronavirus. Some have attributed this success to lessons learned from the SARS outbreak in 2003. While the current crisis is far from over, there may be experiences from Asia that could be of benefit to other parts of the world.

The goals of this webinar was to share information on disease control policies of shelter organizations, provide support and solidarity to front-line staff already working in difficult circumstances, and highlight areas of concern that may have been overlooked by policymakers.

Ni Hsin, Mustard Seed Mission (MSM), Taiwan
Anthony Carlisle, The Garden of Hope Foundation (GOH), Taiwan
Chi Hui-Jung, Global Network of Women’s Shelters
Cindy Southworth & Erica Olsen, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), USA
Marcella Pirrone, D.i.Re, Italy
Margaret Augerinos, Center for Non-Violence, Australia
Fatima Outaleb, UAF Shelter, Morocco
Margarita Guille, Red Interamericana de Refugios, Mexico
Maria Munir, AWSAD, Ethiopia

Many thanks to NNEDV for hosting this event. Presentations and written answers to questions can be found on the ANWS website:


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