Maputo — The Government of Mozambique, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have approved Phase II of the Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls, with an investment of USD 8.5 Million by the EU until December 2022, which complements the Phase I funding of US$20 million already invested for 2019 to mid-2021.
The renewed investment reflects the priorities of the Government of Mozambique and will fund interventions which proved impactful to address violence against women and girls in Gaza, Manica and Nampula Provinces over the past two years. These include community engagement to change social norms, improving case management for delivery of essential services to survivors of violence, improving data collection and management, and investment in longer-term recovery services and economic opportunities for women and girls experiencing violence.
Together, these interventions reached over 1.2 million women and girls in Phase I - more than twice the number initially targeted.
Phase II will also include a targeted geographic expansion of key programme interventions into Cabo Delgado province. Working as a demonstration fund, this investment aims to respond - and influence others to act - to reduce the risk of escalation of child marriage, address the increased risk and exposure of internally displaced women and girls to gender-based violence and sexual exploitation, and continue to ensure quality essential services to this vulnerable population.
The expansion was approved as part of Spotlight Initiative's 2021 Work Plan by its Steering Committee, which held an annual meeting on September 10, 2021.
Beneficiaries of a Spotlight Initiative-supported economic empowerment programme pose for a photo in Nampula Province, northern Mozambique. Photo: Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da Comunidade (FDC)
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Action, Nyeleti Mondlane, stated that "the emancipation of women is a priority of Mozambique's Government, which prioritizes actions aimed at empowering women, with progress in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres, in the Human Development Pillar of its Five-Year Program 2020-2024. Therefore, in light of the Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique, the Gender Policy and its Implementation Strategy, the Family Laws, and the Law to Prevent and Combat Premature Unions, among other guiding instruments, we have been achieving remarkable progress in the promotion of rights and in the eradication of all forms of gender-based violence, specifically against women and girls."
In turn, the EU Ambassador, Antonio Sánchez-Benedito Gaspar said "we, the European Union, remain committed to supporting gender equality in Mozambique, through joint efforts with the Government, the United Nations and Civil Society Organizations, in this tireless fight to pass the message that gender-based violence by no means should be accepted and that it can be combated."
In Mozambique, it is estimated that one in three women suffers violence during their lifetime and nearly half of girls marry before the age of 18, many of whom become pregnant during adolescence.
"That is why it is vital to continue ensuring that women and girls in Mozambique benefit from a legal, institutional, and social environment that promotes their human rights, protects them from violence and ensures their access to sexual and reproductive health and rights," stated the UN Resident Coordinator in Mozambique, Myrta Kaulard.
Since its launch in March 2019, the Spotlight Initiative has been implemented in 10 districts of Gaza, Manica and Nampula provinces. The programme has supported the Government of Mozambique's efforts to approve and implement six new laws which protect women and girls from gender-based violence and harmful practices, such as child marriage. It has also helped to train over 2,900 government staff to improve the integrated response to gender-based violence, and supported the launch of InfoViolência, a gender-based violence data management system. In addition, the Spotlight Initiative has mobilized over 900,000 people to end violence against women and girls with the support of over 50 civil society organizations, and enabled over 530,000 people access improved gender-based violence response, counselling, and sexual and reproductive health services.