Africa: EU-UN Spotlight Initiative shows promising results on ending violence against women and girls

Spotlight Initiative, a global partnership between the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) to eliminate violence against women and girls, has released 'Universal Rights, Global Action', an impact report of its key results from 2019 to 2020.

The Initiaitive reports that in 2019, 41 laws were signed or strengthened across 15 countries on the issue of gender equality or ending violence against women and girls.

Additionally, there was a 15 per cent increase in survivors of violence seeking support across programme countries, 42 million young people were reached by campaigns that challenged harmful gender norms and stereotypes, more than 500,000 people were regularly involved in Spotlight Initiative community activities to end violence against women and girls, and nearly 350,000 adolescents were reached through education programmes.

The report shows that significant and transformative change to end violence against women and girls is possible by drawing on data from more than 25 programme countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In 2019, 50 per cent of programme funds globally were budgeted for civil society organizations in an effort to address the lack of funding for activists and women's organizations working on the front lines with those directly impacted by violence. This represents a new way of working, with studies indicating that only one per cent of gender-focused aid from governments goes to autonomous women's rights activists and groups.

Ten per cent of overall Spotlight Initiative regional funding envelopes was earmarked to directly support and strengthen grassroots women's organizations, many of whom are facing financial challenges due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said that COVID-19 and the consequent rise in violence against women and girls, has made the work of the Initiative increasingly urgent.

"Since the start of this crisis, we have seen an exponential and alarming rise in all forms of violence against women and girls - domestic violence, exploitation and online abuse," said Ms. Mohammed. "Without an end to all forms of violence against women, we will never realize the capacities of half our planet to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals."

"One of the major strengths of the Spotlight Initiative is to stand by human rights defenders, survivors and activists, in support of their daily fight against gender-based violence," said European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen. "Often themselves survivors, they have become agents of change, challenging deeply rooted gender norms and practices that perpetuate violence and silence its victims."

"This report documents the many valuable ways in which the Spotlight Initiative is leveraging the comparative advantages of our UN Resident Coordinators, together with UN entities, government, civil society and donor partners," said Ms. Mohammed. "Through this vital initiative, we are fully committed to ensure our partnership with the European Union continues to deliver high-quality results for women and girls in addressing gender-based violence, as we pursue a future of dignity and opportunity for all."


The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.

It is the world's largest targeted effort to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

Launched in 2017 with a seed funding commitment of €500 million from the European Union, it represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Spotlight Initiative is responding to all forms of violence against women and girls, with a particular focus on domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, femicide, trafficking in human beings and sexual and economic (labour) exploitation.

It operates in more than 25 countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific.

It is demonstrating that a significant, concerted and comprehensive investment in gender equality and ending violence can make a transformative difference in the lives of women and girls.

For more information, please contact:

Koye Adeboye

Spotlight Initiative Communications Lead

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