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New focus on ending violence against women


UN, EU, Spotlight Initiative, end violence against women and girls‘Prevention work must lie at the core of addressing this challenge’.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have embarked on a new, global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

Called the Spotlight Initiative, it aims to bring focused attention to this issue, moving violence against women and girls into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today: 35 per cent of women worldwide are estimated to have experienced at some point in their lives either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner. In some countries, this figure goes up to 70 per cent.

Violence against women and girls is a complex issue that is rooted in gender inequality and discrimination, as well as unequal power relations between men and women which exist in varying degrees across all communities in the world.

It is a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s and girls’ human rights and to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It occurs worldwide, cutting across all generations, nationalities, communities and spheres of our societies, irrespective of age, ethnicity, disability or other background.

Prevention work must lie at the core of addressing this challenge. But despite some promising practices, prevention interventions remain small-scale, fragmented and stand-alone activities, under-resourced and lacking impact evaluation.

Social mobilisation is also necessary to change social norms and behaviours, including men and boys, traditional and religious leaders, private sector and other relevant stakeholders.

So far at least 119 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, 125 have laws on sexual harassment and 52 have laws on marital rape.

The Spotlight Initiative will build on this progress to help eliminate violence against women and girls.

The Initiative will respond 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.

An initial investment in the order of EUR500 million has been made, with the European Union as the main contributor.

Other donors and partners are being invited to join the Initiative to broaden its reach and scope.

It is to be a UN multi-stakeholder trust fund, administered by the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, with the support of core agencies UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women, and overseen by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General.

But everyone is invited to join in and support the Spotlight Initiative’s goal of making a real and lasting difference in the lives of all women and girls around the world.

Gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and crucial to its achievement.

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