In response to a surge in gender-based violence globally as a result of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter launched local-language search prompts in seven Asia Pacific countries including the Philippines.
When people search on Twitter for Tagalog keywords associated with gender-based violence, they will see a notification in Tagalog directing them to the hotlines of local organizations where they can seek help, together with a list of NGOs that can provide the support they need.
In close partnership with UN Women Asia Pacific which played an advisory role, as well as leading NGOs and government agencies that provide critical emergency care, support, and counseling, this service is now available in seven APAC countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has repeatedly called out recently, the global lockdowns announced during the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a “horrifying surge” in gender-based violence (GBV), which further deepens existing gender inequalities given the burden of caring for other vulnerable individuals at home — such as young children and/or sick or elderly family members — falls disproportionately on women.
#ShadowPandemic on the rise during COVID-19
According to the latest report by UN Women, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 globally have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the past 12 months. Emerging data show that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls, and particularly gender-based violence, has intensified across the globe.
Twitter recognizes that collaboration among public, private, and non-profits is a key to combating the complex issue of gender-based violence. The social media platform believes this partnership via the #ThereIsHelp notification service will contribute to the efforts of local organizations ensuring people can access and receive support when they need it the most.
In the Philippines, Twitter has partnered with a trusted national NGO partner in this effort, as well as the key government agencies providing services via the referrals of the #thereishelp service as follows:
- Philippine Commission On Women (@PCWgovph) is the primary policy-making and coordinating government agency on women and gender equality concerns in the Philippines, especially on Violence Against Women Hotlines.
- Women’s Care Center (WCC), a non-profit organization, provides hotlines and a supportive environment in which women who have survived violence can interact with other survivors through group counseling, education programs, recreation activities, or skills training.
Twitter said it is pleased to take this unique step and launch the product feature dedicated to addressing gender-based violence.
“We are honored to collaborate with our critical partners across the region in this regard and are deeply grateful for their collaboration and support. We look forward to supporting their efforts to support and reach their communities during COVID-19 and beyond,” Twitter’s statement read.