A grant of $1 million and a campaign to frontline domestic-abuse services during the Covid-19 lockdown has been announced by Avon, along with the Avon Foundation for Women. The emergency grant was given to 50 frontline services and charity organisations around the world and launched in tandem with Avon’s #IsolatedNotAlone campaign, responding to the surge in domestic-violence cases in the wake of the lockdown.

The grants will be shared across 37 countries, including Brazil, Mexico, India, Philippines, Germany, and the UK. The funding will provide crucial support to over 250,000 at-risk women and children who are affected by rapidly rising domestic-abuse incidents. In India, the company has partnered with three NGOs to support women and children: Shakti Shalini, Swayam and Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) – providing a total grant of $122,500 (approximately Rs 94 lakh). 

According to the latest data released by the National Commission of Women, the number of women calling support services has doubled in India after the announcement of the lockdown. Of the 257 complaints received (post-lockdown and for the month of March), 69 are related to domestic violence. Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has heightened the risk of domestic violence for women and children who have become more vulnerable, leading to a global surge of such cases.

The grant will be used by the NGOs in the following ways:

  • Family Planning Association of India will use the grant to provide essential services in rural communities across the country, including counselling for vulnerable women and children affected by domestic abuse.
  • Swayam will provide 400 women survivors of violence and their children (with whom Swayam works) with support services, including emergency rations, immediate medical aid, skill training and educational support for their children, based on their individual needs.
  • Shakti Shalini will set up the ‘response mechanisms’ programme, which will provide support in the form of crisis intervention, counselling, legal aid, mental and physical healthcare, shelter, skills development, artistic opportunities, educational and economic opportunities, housing aid, rehabilitation or reintegration, and follow-up.

#IsolatedNotAlone is a 360-degree campaign through which Avon claims it will undertake several initiatives on its digital platforms and partner with non-profit organisations that work towards the rescue, protection and rehabilitation of domestic-violence victims. The campaign focuses on raising awareness on the issue, signposting where to go for help, how to identify and support those at risk, and calling on governments to support the provision of life-saving services.

In addition to the grant and in partnership with sister brands Aesop, The Body Shop and Natura, Avon is calling on governments around the world to address the issue of domestic violence and expand funding and resources to cope with the increasing violence. The companies are leveraging their combined global audience to reach 200 million consumers in 110 countries and ask people to support the campaign.

In a press release shared with CB, Swati Jain, Marketing Director of Avon, said, ‘With the #IsolatedNotAlone campaign, we firmly stand with women who are facing domestic violence during the lockdown and are making sure that we take the necessary measures to create awareness and support victims. We look forward to this collaboration with Avon Foundation for Women and our NGO partners and hope that, with their reach and our expertise, we can contribute to reducing cases of domestic violence in India.’

Responding to CB’s question on how the three NGOs were selected, the official spokesperson of the company said that in the first stage they identified NGOs that actively worked against all forms of gender-based violence, finally zeroing in on organisations that would be ‘able to help us support the victims of domestic violence in the most effective manner possible’. While the grant to the three NGOs has been given for a period of one year, the engagement on the concerned activities will continue for a longer period. 

On impact assessment, while the company says it will closely monitor the work being done by the NGOs, it is not clear what parameters and hypotheses, if any, will be applicable and whether a third party will be involved.