De Beers group donates $200 000 to assist women’s support organisations in its host communities to respond to COVID-19.The money will help four producer partner countries – Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa – to assist women’s shelters and support organisations to respond to an increase in gender-based violence resulting from the COVID-19 situation. The donation will be split equally across Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa. It adds to the contributions De Beers Group has already announced in its host countries to support the COVID-19 response, which exceeds $5 million across monetary and in-kind support, spanning the procurement of medical supplies, logistical support, vulnerability assessment support plans, food security for vulnerable households, water supply to communities, COVID-19 awareness and education, and local clinical support. As lockdown and social distancing measures introduced around the world exacerbate the risk of gender-based violence, there has been a global increase in cases reported, including in the countries in which De Beers Group operates.
With some gender-based violence support services currently closed, and those that remain open under increasing demand, De Beers Group’s funding will support the capacity of women’s shelters and organisations in host communities to meet the increase in immediate needs, as well as beyond lockdown periods. De Beers Group is working with local stakeholders in each country, including its long-term partner, UN Women, to tailor an approach that is appropriate to local contexts.Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group and UN Women HeForShe Thematic Champion, said, “As the world faces unprecedented health and economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 virus, many women and children are also being exposed to a significantly increased risk of gender-based violence, while having limited ability to access support services and finding those services are under extreme pressure.” In addition to the contributions De Beers Group is making as a business to support its host countries and communities, Cleaver will donate 30% of his salary over the next three months to charitable organisations supporting vulnerable people in southern Africa. Anne Shongwe, UN Women Representative, South Africa Multi-Country Office, said, “As economic and social pressures and fear have grown over recent weeks, we have seen a significant and deeply concerning surge in domestic violence throughout the world, what UN Women has termed the ‘Shadow Pandemic’, that is already being felt in Southern Africa with calls of distress from women more than doubling.” She added that current restrictions on movement resulted in women being locked in with their violent intimate partners, which exacerbated the situation. “We must ensure women can continue to access essential support services safely as we work to beat COVID-19.” In southern Africa, De Beers Group and UN Women are identifying key funding priority areas through a holistic emergency pathway approach that ensures support is safely accessible to those who need it from escaping abuse through to recovery. Support may be in the form of transportation, accommodation, basic supplies, counselling or a combination thereof. In Canada, the funding will support four shelters in the communities surrounding De Beers Group’s Gahcho Kué and Victor operations.