Summary of Grace Initiative Global session on Gender Based Violence during the 65th UN CSW 2021

View the program on VT Cable TV: YouTube

On March 23, 2021, the Grace Initiative Global, organized a session during the 65th UN Commission on the Status of Women conference. Our session focused on: Addressing and Preventing Gender Based Violence through Empowerment and Generation Equality.

Our session included a worldwide perspective embracing dedicated and compassionate experts representing organizations in Vermont, in Geneva, Brazil, Iraq, Colombia and Uganda. Our experts discussed the sobering situation of Gender Based Violence (GBV) for women and girls globally, which intensified with the Covid Pandemic.

GBV is understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and girls. The Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women defined gender-based violence as a form of violence that disproportionately affects women.[1] It can include violence against women and girls, domestic violence against women, men or children living in the same domestic unit. Although women and girls are the main victims of GBV, it also causes severe harm to families and communities.[2] According to UN report on GBV, global and regional reports indicated an alarming increase in GBV cases during the pandemic, in particular domestic violence. Many of the measures necessary for controlling a viral outbreak also significantly limited the ability of survivors to shield themselves from their abusers, or access support mechanisms.

Thus, with the onset of the Covid Pandemic, GBV increased exponentially. The cataclysmic crisis of covid included health risks or sadly loss of life, food insecurity, job loss, or reduced hours and prolonged shutdowns. Regrettably, Covid also fueled stress and anxiety, which led to increase of household tensions, exacerbating domestic violence. Loss of economic opportunities for women caused many to increasingly work in the informal sector, where they are or were more exposed to the risk of sexual harassment and abuse. Women and girls already in a perilous situation as displaced, or as a refugee, faced further insecurities and physical harms.[3] For example, in the United States research found evidence of an increase of not only in domestic violence cases, but also in the severity of injuries reported.[4] Also, UNHCR found that young women refugees and/or those displaced suffered an increase of sexual violence, consequently causing a rise in early pregnancies. No wonder, the increase of GBV because of Covid, has been referred to as the “shadow pandemic.”

To Address and Present GBV, Grace Initiative proposes a strategy for women and girls through a transformational process. This process, we call SHE, which is comprised of three mechanisms:

Mechanism 1 –Safety, providing a Safe Space Centre;

Mechanism 2 — Healing, through engagement and Trauma Care and a chance to Reconstitute one’s self-agency and dignity-

Mechanism 3 — Empowerment, through capacity building, and income generation bringing about resilience.

From Vermont:

Our first speaker was Karen Tronsgard-Scott, who is the executive director for Vermont’s domestic and sexual violence network.

Vermont ‘s strategy of, addressing and preventing domestic and sexual violence, though, is not just a single focus cause but rather a holistic one, uplifting everyone. The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to uproot the causes of violence and to build a world free of oppression where actions,beliefs and systems support all people to thrive.

From Geneva:

Following Karen’s remarks, Ms. Zaytoon Faraj Abdulla, an Iraqi diplomat with the Permanent Mission of Iraq to the UN in Geneva gave a presentation. She focused her remarks on the situation og GBV in Iraq, especially in light of Covid.

From Brazil:

We will hear from Ms. Monica Villarindo — an advisor for Grace Initiative based in Rio de Janeiro. Monica reviewed the tragic situation of Gender based Violence in Brazil and give us examples of hope.

Ms. Rosane Santiago,– Director for Business and New Partnerships for CIEDs, which is one of the largest NGOs in Brazil focusing on Youth, including young women. CIEDS proposes a dynamic and transformation strategy leading to dignity and transformation. Centro Integrado de Estudos e Programas de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (Center for Integrated Programs for Sustainable Development)

From Colombia

Ms. Rosa Salamanca, founder and executive director of Ciase in Colombia, which is well known organization for its work in integrating women in peace and security. Rosa has discussed her views during a presentation before the UN Security Council on Resolution 1325. Today, she will provide a compelling strategy for Addressing Gender Based Violence.

From Iraq

Mr. Mustafa Saad Abbas Al-Rawi who is heading Grace Initiative office in Iraq.He discussed Grace Initiative Global transformational plans and projects under the principle of SHE, and explain some of those which focus on the Empowerment of Women through Entrepreunership.

Ms. Tasneem Hassan is a remarkable young Iraqi woman. At just 13, she is already embarking on a mission to advocate and care for children, women and the planet. She hopes to give a voice for those who don’t have the opportunity to express their concerns. For example, In November 2019, she discussed her mission during her presentation at the United Nations during the World Children’s Day. Today, She will speak about her hopes for Young Women and Generation Equality -Iraq

From Uganda

Our final speaker was Mick Hirsh, the Founder and Executive Director of Thrive Gulu — in Uganda. He focused on the impact of Covid on gender based violence, and Healing for Women and girls.

We are truly grateful for the time and dedication of the experts in our session. We greatly appreciate your attention to the session and the necessity for Addressing and Preventing Gender Based Violence.

[1] Shalini Mittal and Tushar Singh. “Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mini-Review.” Global Womens Health, 8 Sept. 2020 6 Ibid. All types of violence against women and girls, but particularly domestic violence, intensified.

[2] European Commission, Gender Based Violence Accessed at: 8 UN Women. “Facts and figures: Ending violence against women” Fact Sheet Nov. 20, 2020.

[3] International Rescue Committee, “New Report Finds 73% of Refugee and Displaced Women Reported an Increase in Domestic Violence Due to COVID-19” (Oct 15, 2020). Accessed at

[4] UNHCR/USA. Gender based violence. Accessed at; Melissa Healy. “Domestic violence rose during lockdown — and injuries are dramatically more severe, study finds,” Los Angeles Times, (August 18, 2020). Accessed at



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