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The COVID-19 pandemic is straining public health systems, triggering unprecedented measures by Governments around the world. Stress, limited mobility and livelihood disruptions increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation. Further lockdowns and travel restrictions have also seen a reinforcement of ‘domestic gender norms’ which if left unchallenged, gets reinforced and scaled up from home to school to the community.
UNFPA Sri Lanka, with a grant in aid of AUD 1,000,000 from the Government of Australia (DFAT), is implementing a 30-month project to reduce the incidents of violence against women and girls at the National level in the Northern Province with a focus on the Mannar District.

As a joint programme, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women, focus on 3 outputs which are: 

Output 1: Families, community members have the knowledge and skills to practice and promote gender-equitable non-violent relationships and prevent violence against women, girls and children, and response efforts strengthened. 
Output 2: Girls and boys have the knowledge and improved life and social skills to practice and promote gender-equitable non-violent relationships. 
Output 3: Women in Mannar are empowered to exercise their choices and participate in employment opportunities that promote their financial independence, and have access to quality services.

UNFPA’s focus however remains with Output 1 to,

1.1. Conduct a study as part of national-level assessment to identify the SGBV related impact of the pandemic COVID-19 specifically on women and girls of reproductive age. The assessment will aim to further strengthen the response and prevention of SGBV at the national level to ensure services for victims and survivors are integrated and enhanced and reflected in policies at the national and sub-national levels. 
1.2. Support shelters to remain accessible during the course of the pandemic 
1.3. Develop a formative research to understand the drivers of VAW in the Mannar District including WEE. 
1.4. Develop training modules based on the formative research targeted for parents and communities in Mannar District. The modules will be based on changing prevalent beliefs that reinforce harmful gender norms within families and communities.