NICC at SDG café about gender and Corona crisis

The Corona crisis appears to increase inequality in the world. What is happening and what can we do about inequality, oppression and exclusion in times of Corona?

NICC was online on 16 September at a meeting of Dutch organizations on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, the so-called SDG café. The conversation focused on the link between the Corona crisis and the SDGs. The theme was introduced by Sam Muller, CEO of The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law and Sabine de Jong of UNICEF, who spoke about the invisible victims of the pandemic.

This is an important theme from the perspective of the NICC. A crisis like the corona pandemic can wipe out years of positive development. Not only the disease itself but also the often strict lock-down has a major negative impact in many situations of poverty: people’s income, especially in the informal sector where women are active, is under enormous pressure. This in turn, leads to malnutrition, school dropout, child marriages (out of poverty) and domestic violence. Women and girls are extra affected.

The pandemic is also delaying the implementation of development projects. The percentage of people living below the poverty line is rising again. Bangladesh, for example, is back to the situation of 2010, as shown by the statistical study by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Nevertheless, positive changes in society are also possible. Maaike van Vliet (NICC gender timeline volunteer) points out that her contact from Dhaka tells about the home situation: there has been more time and space to exchange ideas and take time for each other, so that there is more understanding for each other. At the same time, the students undertake activities to prevent domestic violence such as designing and posting posters on social media, referring to the telephone helpline for victims. They are also committed to the “My Sisters Keeper” project, which aims to make more frequent calls to acquaintances and distant relatives and to listen to their stories.

Finally, the question was asked what we learn from these kinds of crises from the past, such as Ebola and SARS. Can development projects contribute to more resilience? An example of how the current Dutch OS is responding to the corona crisis can be found in the “Guidelines for the full program proposal” for the “Power of Voices” program [link]. The guidelines contain a number of criteria for project applications:

Attention to the local covid-19 context;
a COVID-19 strategy for activities and meetings;
how the Theory of Change can / should be implemented in a rapidly changing context due to COVID-19;
include extra costs related to the COVID-19 context in the budget;
adjustments in the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system (risk analysis and travel restrictions).