Localising Solutions to Combat SGBV : Innovative Approaches from South / South-East Asia


Localising Solutions to Combat SGBV: Innovative Approaches from South / South-East Asia



Amongst the most worrying effects of the pandemic has been the alarming increase in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against women and girls. In fact, the UN Women has termed this a ‘shadow pandemic’, prompting its Secretary-General to call on governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19


The continuing impact of the pandemic, and collapse of traditional service delivery systems owing to various forms of lockdowns and travel restrictions, have deepened pre-existing inequalities and have further distanced the refugee community from the development narrative. The global push towards building a digital ecosystem has meanwhile caused most service providers to move to a remote service delivery format, with even courts migrating to a completely virtual model further isolating refugee women and girls who usually lack the digital infrastructure to access these services, rendering them more vulnerable to exploitation. 


All this has necessitated a paradigm shift in the protection ecosystem, towards localized and community-based solutions which allow women/girls to access services outside of mainstream institutional frameworks. Local systems have also been more resilient to COVID-induced disruptions, and informal community mechanisms have been able to provide more effective support than traditional ones. In light of this, there is an urgent need to strengthen these structures and empower them with training and resources to act as first-line responders. 


Within this context, practitioners in South and South East Asia have been working towards piloting and testing programmes that seek to strengthen and democratize justice/protection systems at the grassroots for refugee women/girls. These initiatives include: (a) a specialised mobile app and other digital tools that facilitate access to justice as well as sexual and reproductive health, tailored for refugee women taking into account language, infrastructure, and literacy barriers; (b) women-led watchdog networks; (c) building of capacities of local support structures; and (d) integration of refugees within State-led mechanisms (such as paralegal and health worker networks). The idea behind these initiatives was to re-imagine and strengthen hyper-local community systems with the long-term objective of ensuring better access to justice. 



  • Presenting innovative community-based interventions, including digital tools mobilised for women, particularly refugee women, following the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Using expert and stakeholder insights to develop linkages, identify cross-country synergies, highlight best practices which could potentially be scaled up and implemented across the region, and develop strategies for strengthening locally-led movements.
  • Understanding the challenges faced in implementing these interventions