As COVID-19 spread across the globe, gender-based violence (GBV) experts and women’s rights activists around the world raised the alarm that the pandemic and its ensuing movement restrictions would put women and girls at risk of increased violence. The issue of violence against women and girls in lockdown received unprecedented political attention in the wake of the pandemic. However, it proved much more challenging to translate the rhetorical commitments to the safety of women and girls in emergencies into additional financial resources and programming.

In this report, the International Rescue Committee brings forward the voices of 852 refugee and displaced women living in some of the most underfunded and forgotten humanitarian crises in 15 African countries across East Africa, West Africa and the Great Lakes region, to learn how the pandemic has impacted their safety. It looks at the humanitarian response to the health crisis and asks the question in how far the humanitarian response to COVID-19 took the needs and the safety of women and girls into account.