Government opens $1m fund to support post-COVID recovery of women's organisations

Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter.
Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter. Photo credit: File

A new $1 million fund has been launched to support women's organisations as part of the Government's COVID-19 response, Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has announced. 

Groups that work with and support New Zealand's women are invited to apply for financial aid amid the economic fallout of the country's outbreak. 

"We know women, and organisations that support women, have been affected by COVID-19. This new money will ensure funding for groups that support women and women's rights," Genter said on Sunday.

"Issues related to gender equality can take a backseat during emergencies and crises, and this results in worse outcomes for women and girls. Greater loss of income, increased instances of domestic violence, and increased caring responsibilities all impact on women."

The minister noted that non-Governmental organisations specialising in women's rights and protection are suffering from decreased income and reduced volunteer numbers due to the impacts of the virus, yet many women are in need of their services now more than ever. 

Genter says groups working with wāhine Māori are particularly encouraged to apply. 

"We welcome applications to improve outcomes for women and girls which have not been covered by other government funds. This may include initiatives such as opening a community centre for an additional day in order to provide extra services, or supporting a women's centre to deliver counselling services."

Organisations are welcomed to apply for funding in support of the Government's aims to improve child wellbeing, reduce domestic and sexual violence and foster healthy and safe communities. 

"This funding supports NGOs and women's organisations to be sustainable and make the difference we need in communities to empower women and girls in Aotearoa New Zealand."

The initiative follows a spike in domestic harm incidents during the unprecedented lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which ran from March 25 to April 27. In early April, police noted the rise in reports of domestic violence but also acknowledged the "increased pressure" within households, as families were forced to sequester together amid turbulent and uncertain times. 

Applications will be available for the fund from the Ministry for Women from Sunday and will close on Monday, June 15. More information on the fund can be found here.