Multi-faceted responses to the pandemic must include the promotion of gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the fight against all forms of gender-based violence, says the UN Interagency Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development. Photo: Pisauikan/Unsplash
The United Nations Interagency Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development (IATF), with the endorsement of the IATF Multi-Faith Advisory Council, has urged governments and international bodies to ensure that their policies and actions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic comply with international human rights standards.
Multi-faceted responses to the pandemic must include the promotion of gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the fight against all forms of gender-based violence, it added.
In a statement, the IATF expressed “deep concern about the enormous challenges that this situation presents to the most vulnerable around the world, including the elderly, refugees and migrants, people living in conflict contexts, people with disabilities, young people, religious minorities, women and children at risk of domestic violence, groups that face discrimination and stigmatization, and all other vulnerable groups.”
The global crisis unleashed by the pandemic must be addressed through “a whole-of-society, human-centered approach that prioritizes health safety, the right to access health services, social protection and cohesion,” said the IATF.
"WACC welcomes and endorses this important initiative," said Philip Lee, General Secretary. "Addressing the needs of vulnerable people and marginalized communities will remain a vital task once the pandemic is brought under control." WACC, he added, “especially welcomes the call to respect and protection of international human rights standards in all policies and actions, and to promote gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and to combat all forms of gender-based violence.”
The IATF also expressed its commitment to work closely with those who stand up against stigma, hate speech, hate crimes, xenophobia, racism and all other forms of discrimination. “In this time of upheaval, sorrow and distress, religious leaders and faith-based organizations play a unique role in bringing people together around the common values of our shared humanity – solidarity and compassion,” it added. “Solidarity and compassion should be promoted both within and between communities of faith.”
It noted the “strong engagement” of the Multi-Faith Advisory Council (MFAC) and urged IATF members to assist their constituencies in preparations and responses to the pandemic, including by disseminating “ science-based information, facts, and evidence in accordance with UN policies and frameworks, and in particular with the guidance of the World Health Organization on COVID-19.
The IATF also urged religious leaders and faith-based organizations to promote and advocate for the UN report, Shared Responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, and the Secretary General’s Response and Recovery Fund.
The report describes the scale of the pandemic and the economic hardships and disruptions it has unleashed worldwide. The fund intends to support low and middle-income countries overcome the health and development challenges caused by the pandemic.
The UN Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development came about when individual members of the UN General Assembly’s Tripartite Forum first met informally in 2007.