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We know that gender-based violence (GBV), sexual exploitation and abuse increase in times of crisis and fragility. Humanitarian and health crises disproportionately impact women and girls. Emerging data on GBV and COVID-19 show a sharp increase in violence against women and girls.

The UNFPA Global Response Plan on COVID-19 identifies addressing gender-based violence and harmful practices as one of the three strategic priorities for UNFPA. At the onset of COVID-19 in the East and Southern Africa region, UNFPA carried out a snapshot analysis throughout April and May 2020, which indicated that the majority of countries had a National COVID-19 Response Plan and/or a COVID-19 Task Force in place. Only 13 out of 23 ESA countries recognized GBV services as an essential part of their COVID-19 Response Plan, although recognition is a critical step towards ensuring the continuity of those services.