Hivos and COVID-19

April 16, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis is rapidly confronting us all with health risks, social changes, and an uprooted daily life. But these new challenges should not deter us from ensuring that authorities are equitable when it comes to economic, health, and food security crisis measures.

From years of experience, we know how marginalized communities in particular suffer in times of crisis as existing inequalities and discrimination become worse. For example, the LGBT community that does not have access to health care. Or women without equal rights in many places who are structurally underpaid. They cannot afford not to go to work and therefore take extra risks.

We have also seen a worrying global trend of legislation that curtails freedoms and civil society. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic could stifle critical voices even more. As countries and regions become ever more isolationist, global attention for essential human rights is decreasing. Now, governments are tempted to use this health crisis to tighten their grip on civil society as they increase their own power.

That is why we now – more than ever – need to rely on both national as well as international solidarity. While high income countries can inject billions into their economies, others cannot. Hivos is committed to call upon these governments to increase investments in the low and medium income countries, whose poor will suffer most from the virus.

This crisis shows how dependent we are on one another. We must not allow it to feed isolationism. The only long-term solution has to be a global solution. That means continuing to build an open and green society. A society where citizens can rely on independent information, the vulnerable in our communities receive support, and none of us neglect our work to ensure global commitment to the SDGs.

A vibrant civil society is essential in times of crisis.