Press Release: UN Women and prominent LPG company take action in Turkey as COVID-19 lockdowns see rise in domestic violence

Aygaz, Turkey’s 18th largest company, and signatory to the UN Global Compact and Women's Empowerment Principles, is partnering with UN Women in Turkey to amplify the message: Say No to Domestic Violence!, as COVID-19 lockdowns see a rise in domestic violence.

Date: Thursday, May 14, 2020

Istanbul, May 2020 – Violence against women is on the rise during the stay at home measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. In response, UN Women and prominent LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) brand in Turkey, Aygaz, have collaborated on information materials, which the energy company is now distributing across its vast national network, reaching autogas station customers, households and women directly. They are also mobilizing their helpline to help women in need.

As part of the Koç Group's commitments to achieving gender equality, since 2016 Aygaz has been a signatory to the Women's Empowerment Principles, introduced by UN Women. As part of this commitment, together with UN Women Turkey, the company has developed public information on how COVID-19 impacts women’s economic and social lives, the challenges they face, and where they can find help and support against domestic violence. 

Aygaz dealers are now distributing information brochures to their female customers, while emails and SMS messages are sent to the women on Aygaz’s opted-in database. Women who contact the Aygaz call center get information about the institutions and telephone numbers that offer support in case of domestic violence and other forms of violence. Aygaz is also partnering with Opet to place informative posters in autogas station restrooms.

Aygaz, who launched its first nationwide awareness campaign in 2016 by publishing the Say No to Violence Against Women Manifesto, is putting this issue on the agenda by pointing to the increasing domestic violence during COVID-19 lockdown. Aygaz believes that violence against women is not just a women's issue but a social problem that needs to be solved and a human rights’ violation. Aygaz aims to help in achieving gender equality and building a free and inclusive social and economic life.

Domestic violence on the rise

With families staying at home in confined spaces during the COVID-19 lockdowns, reports indicate that not only are women carrying a heavier burden of care and housework, domestic violence is also on the rise. Recent months have seen many more calls to the emergency helplines of women’s organizations in Turkey, while the Istanbul Police Department’s March data confirms this worrying trend. These sources indicate that domestic violence cases in Istanbul rose by 38.2 per cent in March 2020 compared to March 2019.

A similar trend is observed across the world, with violence against women rising globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. A statement by UN Women on 6 April points out that several countries including Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, Singapore, and Australia are reporting heightened demand for emergency shelter and an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines.

The social and economic impact of COVID-19 highlighted

Pandemics like COVID-19 affect women and men differently, increasing the already existing inequalities that women and girls face in the society. Women are disproportionately affected by the increased burden of paid and unpaid house and care work, for example.

Meanwhile, on the COVID-19 frontline, women constitute 50 per cent of physicians, 70 per cent of nurses and 100 per cent of midwives in Turkey. And, globally, women make up 70 per cent of all workers in the healthcare and social services sectors, all of which are working tirelessly, especially in these trying times. Women’s domestic work and care burden is three times higher than that of men, this figure reaches five times higher in Turkey.

At the same time, indirect and direct discrimination towards vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities and low-income segments becomes more visible during pandemics. Through its latest campaign, Aygaz draws attention to the fact that solidarity and mutual understanding is crucial during a pandemic. 

About Aygaz

Aygaz, the first Koç Group company operating in the energy sector, is Turkey’s 18th largest enterprise. Since its establishment in 1961, Aygaz has maintained the leadership of the LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) industry in Turkey. In addition to distributing LPG in cylinders, as autogas and in bulk, Aygaz also produces and sells LPG pressurized containers and accessories. Operating with nearly 2,400 cylinder gas dealers and over 1,700 autogas stations as of 2019 year-end, Aygaz also exports gas devices, extending its operations across European, Middle Eastern and African markets. Through an established distribution and service network, Aygaz gas cylinders are delivered to more than 60 thousand homes and offices every day while 200 thousand vehicles per day are powered by Aygaz Otogaz, the autogas product of Aygaz. The company constantly improves the quality of its products and services by anticipating consumer needs and meets customer demands swiftly and safely.