The Commonwealth and the NO MORE Foundation are launching a ‘16 Days of Actions’ blog series on Wednesday to help end violence against women and girls.
The series runs alongside the UN’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign from November 25 to December 10.
It portrays multi-disciplinary national responses in addressing violence against women and girls, and supporting wider efforts to achieve gender equality.
The purpose is to highlight best practices from across the 54 member countries in tackling incidents of violence, delivering support services to victims and protecting survivors, according to Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Secretariat’s experts will author each blog with a focus on illustrating the novelty, scope and impact of a good practice currently in place in member countries.
These practices build on the unique experience of the 54 member countries, representing one-third of humanity and embodying every culture, faith and socio-economic landscape.
This means a practice, which has worked in one Commonwealth nation, can be replicated and scaled up in other countries with similar context.
Under the theme ’16 Days of Actions: For the women in my life’, the series is part of the Commonwealth Says NO MORE campaign.
The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign is marking the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence under the global theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!".
UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign is amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.
The campaign is part of UN Women’s efforts for Beijing+25 and building up to launch bold new actions and commitments to end violence against women at the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico and France in 2021, according to UN Women.
This year is like no other. Even before COVID-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions, said the UN agency.
Globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.
Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.
As countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified – in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.
In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels.
School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.
In April 2020, as the pandemic spread across the world, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “peace at home”, and 146 Member States responded with their strong statement of commitment.
In recent months, 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to COVID-19. Yet, much more is needed.
Today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action, UN Women said.
It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, it said.
For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.
The coronavirus pandemic has hurt the U.S. seafood industry due to a precipitous fall in imports and exports and a drop in catch of some species.
Those are the findings of a group of scientists who sought to quantify the damage of the pandemic on America’s seafood business, which has also suffered in part because of its reliance on restaurant sales. Consumer demand for seafood at restaurants dropped by more than 70% during the early months of the pandemic, according to the scientists, who published their findings recently in the scientific journal Fish and Fisheries.
Imports fell about 37% and exports about 43% over the first nine months of the year compared to 2019, the study said. The economic impact has been felt most severely in states that rely heavily on the seafood sector, such as Maine, Alaska and Louisiana, said Easton White, a University of Vermont biologist and the study’s lead author.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom for the industry, as seafood delivery and home cooking have helped businesses weather the pandemic, White said. The industry will be in a better position to rebound after the pandemic if domestic consumers take more of an interest in fresh seafood, he said.
“Shifting to these local markets is something that could be really helpful for recovery purposes,” White said. “The way forward is to focus on shortening the supply chain a little bit.”
The study found that Alaska’s catch of halibut, a high-value fish, declined by 40% compared to the previous year through June. Statistics for many U.S. fisheries won’t be available until next year, but those findings dovetail with what many fishermen are seeing on the water.
Maine’s catch of monkfish has dried up because of the lack of access to foreign markets such as Korea, said Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.
“The prices just went so low, they couldn’t build a business doing that this year,” Martens said.
The study confirms what members of the seafood industry have been hearing for months, said Kyle Foley, senior program manager for the seafood program at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Foley, who was not involved in the study, said the findings make clear that the seafood industry needs more help from the federal government.
The federal government allocated $300 million in CARES Act dollars to the seafood industry in May. The government announced $16 billion for farmers and ranchers that same month.
“It helps to make the case for why there’s a need for more relief, which I think is our industry’s biggest concern across the supply chain in seafood,” Foley said.
The study concludes that “only time will tell the full extent of COVID-19 on US fishing and seafood industries.” Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute in McLean, Virginia, said the short-term findings reflect the difficulties the industry has experienced this year.
“The closure of restaurant dinning has had a disproportionate effect on seafood and a pivot to retail has not made up for all of the lost sales,” Gibbons said.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), said “there is now real hope” that vaccines will play an essential part in helping end the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO Chief’s remarks came up on Monday after drugmaker AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with Oxford University, was up to 90 percent effective.
Tedros said the significance of this scientific achievement cannot be overstated, reports UN News.
Noting that no vaccine in history has been developed as rapidly, the WHO chief said that the scientific community had set “a new standard for vaccine development” and now the international community must set “a new standard for access”.
“The urgency with which vaccines have been developed must be matched by the same urgency to distribute them fairly”, he spelled out, warning of a real risk that the poorest, and most vulnerable will be “trampled in the stampede” to get inoculated.
Tedros explained that it was against this backdrop that WHO and its partners had established the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator back in April.
“The ACT Accelerator has supported the fastest, most coordinated and successful global effort in history to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics,” he said.
He said that currently 50 diagnostics are under evaluation; rapid antigen diagnostics are now available for low- and middle-income countries; while life-saving treatments are being rolled out and new medicines tested.
Moreover, 187 countries are taking part in the COVAX facility, to collaborate on the procurement and rollout of vaccines, “ensuring the best possible prices, volumes and timing for all countries”, he said.
Despite the excellent progress, Tedros said that “only a fundamental change in funding and approach will realise the full promise of the ACT Accelerator”.
He revealed that $4.3 billion is still needed to support mass procurement and delivery, tests and treatments this year and another $23.8 billion would will be required in 2021.
“This isn’t charity, it’s the fastest and smartest way to end the pandemic and drive the global economic recovery,” he stressed.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), if medical solutions can be made available faster and more widely, they could lead to a cumulative increase in global income of almost $9 trillion by the end of 2025.
“The real question is not whether the world can afford to share vaccines and other tools; it’s whether it can afford not to,” Tedros said.
China has reported new coronavirus cases in the cities of Shanghai and Tianjin as it seeks to prevent small outbreaks from becoming larger ones.
The National Health Commission said Tuesday that there were two new locally spread cases in the previous 24-hour period, one in each city. It also reported 20 cases among people who had arrived from overseas.
In Shanghai, the mass testing of 17,719 workers at the city’s Pudong aiport found one infection, a Fedex employee. Everyone else tested negative.
Three UPS workers at the airport have also tested positive in recent days, along with the wife of one of them. In all, Shanghai has reported eight non-imported cases since Friday.
In Tianjin, where 2.3 million people had been tested as of Monday, the city reported one case in a person who developed symptoms after testing positive earlier. China does not include people without symptoms in its confirmed case count.
To date, the health commission has recorded 86,464 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is working with more than 350 partners, including major airlines, shipping lines and logistics associations from around the world, to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to over 92 countries, as soon as doses become available, the agency said on Monday.
Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF Supply Division, highlighted the importance of the partnership to ensure capacity for the massive undertaking.
"As work continues to develop COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF is stepping up efforts with airlines, freight operators, shipping lines and other logistics associations to deliver life-saving vaccines as quickly and safely as possible," she said.
"This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation. We need all hands on deck as we get ready to deliver COVID-19 vaccine doses, syringes and more personal protective equipment to protect front line workers around the globe," the UNICEF official added.
To kick-start preparations, UNICEF along with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) briefed major global airlines last week on the expected capacity requirements and discussed ways to transport close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses next year. This is in addition to the 1 billion syringes that need to be transported by sea-freight.
In the coming weeks, UNICEF is also assessing existing transport capacity to identify gaps and future requirements, said the agency.
"The procurement, delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is anticipated to be the largest and fastest such operation ever undertaken," it added.
UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and deliver vaccines from manufacturers that have agreements with the COVAX Facility. In collaboration with PAHO, UNICEF will coordinate the purchase and delivery for 92 low- and lower middle-income economies as quickly and securely as possible.
The efforts build on UNICEF's longstanding efforts with the logistics industry to transport supplies around the world despite restrictions related to the pandemic. Since January, it has delivered over 190 million U.S. dollars worth of COVID-19 supplies such as masks, gowns, oxygen concentrators and diagnostic test kits to support countries as they respond to the pandemic.
As the largest single purchaser of vaccines in the world, UNICEF normally procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries.
This unparalleled expertise includes the coordination of thousands of shipments with various cold chain requirements, making the UN agency an expert in supply chain management of temperature-controlled products, which is especially needed during this historic undertaking.