UN Women Turkey is extending its outreach and impact through meaningful and strong private sector partnerships

Date: Monday, May 4, 2020

Safety plan for women who are subjected to violence
UN Women Turkey has been disseminating the “My Safety Plan” by mobilizing its broad partnership network. Design: UN Women

The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone across the globe; however, its impacts are different for people with different backgrounds. It also affects economies, businesses and societies differently. Previous experience has shown crises have harsher economic consequences for women and girls, deepen pre-existing gender inequalities and risk previous gains made on women’s rights and gender equality. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Turkey, UN Women Turkey has focused its efforts on the impacts and implications of COVID-19 crisis on women and girls and has been cooperating with its partners to drive a gendered response to the crisis in Turkey.

You can’t respond to what you can’t assess

Assessing the immediate impacts of COVID-19 crisis on women and men accurately is crucial for developing a gender-sensitive and effective short term and long-term response to fight against negative impacts of the crises. In this regard, UN Women Turkey is partnering with the business community (private sector companies and Employers’ organizations) and other UN agencies to conduct employers’ survey. The objective of this survey is to help the businesses understand gender dimensions of COVID-19 and better serve the needs of employees. The findings will be used to ensure gender-sensitive corporate strategies in responding to the crisis.

Women are not alone

Since the beginning of the outbreak, domestic violence has spiked, globally and in Turkey, as the households are put under heavier stress related to security, health and finance. UN Women Turkey has produced a guideline entitled “My Safety Plan” for women on how to protect themselves from violence against women, navigate the system of service provision and to exercise their rights. “My Safety Plan” is made available both in written and audio formats in Turkish, Arabic and English. UN Women Turkey has been disseminating the “My Safety Plan” by mobilizing the broad partnership network it has, which includes civil society organizations and private sector companies, including WEPs signatory companies such as Avon, Koç Holding, and Vodafone. In addition, UN Women strongly encourages private sector companies to divert their resources and funding to civil society organization which work in the field of violence against women.

In this context, to enable women’s easy access to protection mechanisms in the course of domestic violence, strengthening online and mobile support services become vital. UN Women Turkey has joined forces with Vodafone Foundation Turkey to increase the functionality and accessibility of their phone application “Vodafone Red Light”, a mobile app women can use to place emergency calls/texts to the police and persons selected by them in case their safety is under threat. With the “Leave No One Behind” motto, Vodafone Foundation Turkey is in the process of translating the application into Arabic in order to ensure refugee women’s accessibility. In addition, UN Women Turkey is using its social media channels to disseminate information on online and offline support mechanisms such as Vodafone Red Light mobile application.

Communication is key in COVID-19 response

UN Women focusing on creating and disseminating messages to the public and to specific target groups on the challenges faced by women during COVID-19, the pre-existing gender inequalities that have been exacerbated by this crisis and what needs to be done to ensure that women and girls are central in the response and recovery efforts.

UN Women Turkey is also collaborating with the Advertisers’ Association and the 13 founding members of the Unstereotype Alliance National Chapter in Turkey to promote positive gender roles in marketing and advertising in the context of COVID-19.

Information and awareness on the gender aspects of COVID-19

UN Women Turkey has increased its online outreach to its broad network of partners of over 300 private sector companies, including WEPs signatories, and Unstereotype Alliance members, through newsletters. We have issued a “Call for Action to the Private Sector” informing our partners about the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and on how they can re-align their policies and practices for a gender-sensitive crisis response. We also share the resources on gender responsive COVID-19 guidance and actions with our private sector partners regularly.

In regular communication with private sector companies, UN Women is identifying and sharing emerging good practices. A webinar on “Gender-Sensitive COVID-19 Response” was conducted for Koç Holding and its affiliated 16 companies. A webinar on “How to Cope with Burnout during the pandemic" is also planned for the upcoming period to be conducted with the member companies of Unstereotype Alliance National Chapter in Turkey.