Monday, 15 March, 2021
11:30 - 13:30 (UTC -4)

High-level side event of the Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls

New York

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, reports from those on the frontlines have shown that all forms of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, have intensified. At the same time, resources and efforts have been diverted from gender-based violence response to immediate COVID-19 relief. As a result, access to many critical and often life-saving services has become increasingly challenging. The UN Secretary-General made a global appeal on 5 April to end violence, including in homes, during COVID-19.

146 UN Member States and Observers answered the UN Secretary-General’s appeal by committing to make the prevention and redress of violence against women and girls a key part of COVID-19 responses.

The Group of Friends was established in December 2020 to promote the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s call. It aims to create a platform to share lessons learned on efforts to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence, to improve cooperation on this issue as well as to support advocacy initiatives and the mobilisation of additional resources.


Marking nearly a year since the UN Secretary-General’s appeal on Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19, the High-Level side-event of the Group of Friends at the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will provide an opportunity to:

  • take stock of ongoing efforts to integrate the prevention and redress of violence against women and girls in COVID-19 responses at the national and local level;
  • highlight areas to further enhance cooperation and build partnerships to eliminate violence against women and girls;
  • mobilise action and resources to support initiatives to end gender-based violence, such as the Spotlight initiative;

Opening: H.E. Mr António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

  • Key-note addresses: H.E. Ms Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, H.E. Ms Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy-Secretary General
  • Panel: H.E. Ms Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, H.E. Mr George Weah, President of Liberia, Ms Josina Machel, Women Human Rights Defender, Founder of the Kuhluka Movement, Mozambique, Ms Geetanjali Misra, Co-Founder and Executive Director of CREA, member of the Global Reference Group of Spotlight Initiative
  • Q&A with participants
  • Closing: Ms Ixchel Lucas, Representative of Las Niñas Lideran, on behalf of the Generation Equality Forum Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence


Moderator: H.E. Mr Olof Skoog, EU Ambassador to the UN, Chair of the Group of Friends


H.E. Mr António Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General
H.E. Ms Jutta Urpilainen
European Commissioner for International Partnerships
H.E. Ms Amina Mohammed
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General