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Domestic Violence in the COVID-19 Crisis

Grassroots Solutions and Global Solidarity

MADRE’s new campaign uplifts the voices and expertise of our community-based partners to the forefront of the global effort to address increasing levels of domestic violence resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of our partners have experience addressing gender-based violence in the context of armed conflict or other disasters. Facing the COVID-19 crisis, they have innovated and adapted. Their solutions are vital, especially for others searching for ways to respond. Together, we are mobilizing tools and resources to prevent, address, and document domestic violence in local communities, and advocating for policymakers to prioritize local, women-led strategies.

Woman speaks into a microphone at radio station.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence was already a global emergency. Measures to control the spread of coronavirus like restrictions on movement, while important for public health, have exacerbated conditions that too often lead to violence. Those who face gender-based violence and discrimination and persecution on the basis of race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, caste, or class, are at further risk and often have access to fewer resources.

This global emergency calls on us to not only support survivors of domestic violence. We must confront the root causes of gender-based violence throughout the globe. We must create change out of crisis.

Logos for Media Matters for Women, MenEngage, OutRight Action International, Women Enabled, Nobel Women's Initiative and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

In coalition with Media Matters for Women, MenEngage, Nobel Women's Initiative, OutRight Action International, Women Enabled, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), we aim to bring meaning to UN Secretary-General Guterres’ recent call for a global “ceasefire” on domestic violence.

The emergency responses we enact now will seed plans globally to address the rise in gender-based violence that crises invariably trigger while strengthening mechanisms to address the domestic violence that has affected so many.

Our Key Strategies

Interventions to confront domestic violence might work in one place, but those same strategies might not serve the communities of our partners -- places confronting war and climate breakdown. That’s why we’re:

  • Compiling and developing concrete strategies for local organizations, informed by the grassroots expertise of our partners
  • Creating real-time mechanisms for activists to learn from one another, helping ensure that successful strategies can be replicated
  • Developing and disseminating recommendations for policymakers, and advocating for their implementation.
Campaign Highlights
  • Read our op-ed about increases in domestic violence that our partners are observing in their communities.
  • We've developed a briefing paper to raise awareness of increasing domestic violence and share best practices that our partners and feminist allies use to prevent, address, and document violence.*
  • We are also developing a toolkit that highlights programmatic activities and best practices for preventing, addressing and documenting domestic violence. It will include sample scripts, media messaging tips, and interactive resources for community engagement, translated into Arabic, French, Kurdish, Spanish and Swahili.
  • MADRE and our partner SOFEPADI testified to the UN Security Council’s Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security about the gendered impacts of COVID-19. We provided Council Members with practical recommendations on how to address domestic violence in the pandemic, drawing examples from SOFEPADI’s innovative work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

*If you are visually impaired and would prefer a copy in Word, to please email

Palestinian woman puts up an informative poster.
Palestinian Medical Relief Society member puts up informative posters on COVID-19 prevention.

Highlights from Our Partners


Democratic Republic of Congo

SOFEPADI’s experience fighting the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has prepared them to respond quickly to the current COVID-19 pandemic. SOFEPADI has created videos and innovative social media messaging to address domestic violence and raise awareness of virus prevention. SOFEPADI is also working in refugee camps and remote areas of the country to distribute sanitation and medical supplies.


ABAAD MENA in Lebanon has developed a creative way of sharing information about a domestic violence help-line – through banners placed on balconies and in windows – overcoming constraints of isolation and limited internet or phone services.


Wangki Tangni is spreading the word on COVID-19 prevention and gender-based violence through its Indigenous women-led radio station and outreach through their network of human rights organizers. They are reaching 115 remote Indigenous communities who lack access to medical services and life-saving information in Nicaragua.


Salon Plus is using online resources like WhatsApp and Facebook to connect with women and girls in facing an increase of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization is sharing information and holding workshops, as well as counseling sessions, to address the impact of the crisis and domestic abuse.