UN Women has a universal mandate to provide, through its normative support functions, operational activities and coordination role, guidance and technical support on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s rights, across all levels of development and in all regions. Under this mandate UN Women leads the work on elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) within the United Nations system.
VAWG continues to be the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today, and remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, and construed stigma and shame surrounding it. Despite a growing momentum by States to eliminate and prevent all forms of VAWG, challenges persist in achieving transformative change in this area –mainly due to the tenacity of discriminatory social norms that tolerate and condone violence and inequality between men and women; the lack of coherent approaches in preventing VAWG in the first place; and the lack of access to long-term, quality, multi-sectoral services that are coordinated for survivors.
Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights and it impedes equality, development and peace across the world. The promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including to leave no one behind, cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to VAWG. UN Women employs a comprehensive approach to addressing violence against women and girls, in private and public space, including investments in:
* Improving research and statistical data;
* Strengthening international norms and standards and national legislative and policy frameworks;
* Expanding coordinated, quality multi-sectoral services;
* Facilitating understanding and supporting evidence-based prevention approaches; and
* Supporting women’s rights and civil society groups.
UN Women’s work is guided by its 4-year Strategic Plan (2018-2021) which includes ending violence against women as one of its outcomes. UN Women’s work is embedded within the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, especially its General Recommendations 19 and 35; the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome documents of its reviews, as well as other human rights treaties, General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council Resolutions; and the agreed conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women; and critical regional instruments, such as Belem do Para, the Maputo Protocol and the Istanbul Convention.
RESEARCH AND STATISTICAL DATA
UN Women at global, regional and country level works with governments, civil society and academia to conduct quantitative and qualitative research to improve the understanding of the magnitude, nature, risk and protective factors and consequences of different forms of VAWG, and to generate evidence of what works and what does not work to address it. At the global level, UN Women in collaboration with WHO is responding to the need of strengthening the collection and use of VAW data through the Global Programme on Strengthening Methodologies and Measurement and Building National Capacities for VAW Data. The goal of this 5-year Joint Programme (2018-2022) is to ensure that quality data on different forms of VAW are available and collected over time to address national data gaps and meet policy and reporting commitments under the SDGs, CEDAW, and the Beijing Platform for Action. The programme aims to contribute to the strengthening and dissemination of measurement and methodologies for VAW data collection and use (including for national, regional and global monitoring and reporting requirements for SDG target 5.2 indicators); the increase of capacities of national institutions to collect VAW data according to globally agreed methodological and ethical standards; and the collection and accessibility of national VAW data for advocacy, policy and programming to end violence against women and girls.
NORMS, LAWS AND POLICIES
UN Women leads the drafting of Secretary General’s Reports, including: Intensification of Efforts to Eliminate All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls, Intensifying Global Efforts for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilations and Report of the Secretary General on Trafficking in Persons, which provide an analysis of trends, good practices, gaps and challenges, as well as recommendations to Member States and other stakeholders. UN Women further supports negotiations of Member States based on these reports to inform GA Resolutions on the same. UN Women also convenes the Commission on the Status of Women, providing similar support to Member States in their negotiations of Agreed Conclusions related to violence against women. At the 25 year anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), UN Women together with the Regional Commissions facilitated comprehensive national level reviews on progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of the BPfA, and the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment, including in the critical area of eliminating violence against women. At country-level, UN Women’s support has led to strengthened national legislation to prevent and respond to VAW, and to the adoption of national action plans for the elimination of VAW. A more detailed synopsis on UN Women’s work in this area can be obtained through the Annual Report(s).
To improve the quality of and access to comprehensive essential multi-sectoral services that respond to the immediate and long-term needs and well-being of women and girls who have experienced violence, such as intimate partner violence or sexual violence, UN Women in partnership with UNFPA initiated the ‘Essential Services Programme’ in 2013. This initiative is now a full-fledged United Nations Global Joint Programme: Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence, with WHO, UNODC and UNDP as participating UN agencies. through this joint programme, UN Women, in collaboration with all participating agencies, developed the ‘Essential Services Package for Women and Girls Subject to Violence: Core Elements and Quality Guidelines’ for the Health, Justice and Policing and Social Services Sectors, along with Implementation Guides to assist the rollout and implementation of the Essential Services Package at country level. The Programme began with 10 pilot countries and has expanded with self-starters to over 50 in 2019.
Prevention is the only way to stop violence before it occurs. The evidence-base on what works to prevent violence has evolved considerably over the past decade, including through initiatives supported by UN Women, such as the Partners for Prevention Programme in Asia Pacific. UN Women has played a key role in developing evidence-based policy and programming guidance in this area. In 2015, UN Women led the development of the first inter-agency framework on prevention, in partnership with ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA and WHO. A Framework to Underpin Action to Prevent Violence Against Women (2015), promotes a common understanding of preventing violence against women for the UN System, policymakers and other stakeholders and provides a theory of change to support action. To further operationalize this framework, UN Women, partnered with various UN agencies, to develop handbooks guiding implementation of specific entry points. Those include: Global Guidance on Addressing School-related Gender Based Violence (with UNESCO); Addressing Violence and Harassment Against Women in the World of Work (with ILO); The Big Conversation: Handbook to Address Violence against Women in and through the Media (with UNESCO); A Handbook to Address Violence against Women in and through Sports (with UNESCO); Preventing violence against women in elections: A programming guide (with UNDP) and a Guidance Note on Campus Violence Prevention and Response. In 2019, with WHO, UN Women launched the RESPECT Women; Preventing Violence against Women Framework to update the 2015 Prevention Framework. A package of implementation materials for the RESPECT Framework are in process of development and will be available in 2021. In addition to policy guidance, UN Women undertakes programming in various countries across regions with various stakeholders in public spaces, in schools, in communities, workplaces, sports organizations and other institutions to address structural and systemic inequalities and change attitudes, beliefs and social norms.
Knowledge Hub on Violence against Women:
UN Women hosts one of the most extensive repositories of resources on preventing and eliminating VAWG at the Global Knowledge Platform to End Violence against Women. This hub, contains three unique portals, including: 1) The Global Database on Violence against Women, a filterable database containing information on the measures undertaken by Member States; 2) Inventory of United Nations Activities, a filterable database on the work of UN entities; and 3) The Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls, a one-stop site providing programming guidance promising practice case studies and tools in English, French and Spanish.
UN Women also maintains a dedicated Training Site with numerous learning opportunities (online courses, face-to-face sessions, manuals and self-paced lessons) on violence against women, including introductory material on the topic, as well as dedicated materials on men and masculinities, FGM and Essential Services, among others.
Harmful cultural practices are discriminatory practices towards women and girls that are ritualized because they are performed/exercised persistently and as a result have been culturally normalized. UN Women recognizes that harmful practices take many forms and impinge upon the dignity and integrity of the individual, constituting a grave human rights violation. UN Women’s strategy on Harmful Practices focuses primarily on addressing two of the most prevalent forms, Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). The work on harmful practices includes support to strengthen legislation, public policies and mechanisms to address impunity; capacity building of service providers and law enforcement; increasing women’s and girls’ knowledge about their rights; advocacy and awareness campaigns; work with women’s organizations and CSOs; and transforming norms. UN Women works closely with renowned activist Jaha Dukureh, CEO and Founder of the NGO “Safe Hands for Girls”, who serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the issue worldwide.
SAFE CITIES AND SAFE PUBLIC SPACES
UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative commits to creating safe and empowering public spaces for women and girls free from sexual harassment (SH) and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls (SVAWG). Through a comprehensive human rights and evidence-based approach, cities develop practical solutions in four main action areas, including: ensuring that locally relevant and owned solutions are identified through detailed scoping studies; strengthening laws and policies on sexual harassment in public space; investing in the safety and economic viability of public spaces; and fostering transformative social norms that promote women and girls’ rights to use public spaces free from SH and other forms of sexual violence (SV). Under the Flagship Initiative, each city adapts a Global Framework and accompanying package of tools to their local context. The Safe Cities Initiative was originally launched in 5 pilot cities (Cairo, Kigali, New Delhi, Port Moresby and Quito). It has since expanded to over 50 cities, including those in the Global North.
ADDRESSING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
As a champion of women’s rights and gender equality, preventing and addressing sexual harassment as a form of violence against women and girls through programmes, policy, and advocacy is a critical area of UN Women’s work. The organization has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and all other forms of VAWG. To this end, UN women has a newly created special assignment: The Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Addressing Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination. This role focuses on placing women’s experiences at the core of the work on sexual harassment and brings survivor-focused approaches to the fore. UN Women’s leadership coordinates efforts towards decisive action on this pressing issue, which at its core tackles the gendered nature of power and the need to ensure justice and dignity for women. UN Women has authored two publications on the issue: “What Will It Take? Promoting Cultural Change to End Sexual Harassment.” and “Towards an End to Sexual Harassment: The Urgency and Nature Of Change In The Era Of #MeToo”. These publications focus on cultural change needed to end sexual harassment, offering guidance to policymakers, employers, activists and universities on how to address this scourge, making sure that the needs of the victim–survivors are at the heart of all efforts. As well share UN Women’s work on this topic and offering new guidance on policy and practice on sexual harassment.
TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN AND GIRLS
Trafficking disproportionately affects women and girls, who account for 71% of identified trafficking victims globally. UN Women works to ensure that anti-trafficking policies and initiatives comprehensively address the continuum of violence against women, and girls and the related gender dimensions of human trafficking. The work is undertaken across four key pillars: ensuring that legislative and policy frameworks are in line with international human rights standards; supporting institutions to collect relevant data, exchange information and develop comprehensive, multisectoral and gender-sensitive approaches; promoting gender equitable social norms, attitudes and behaviors; as well as increasing knowledge about the rights of women and reducing their vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation. UN Women works at country, regional and global level in different dimensions to combat trafficking in women and girls, and also provides support and inputs to other UN agencies, to ensure their programmes and interventions include a gendered and survivor-centered approach. UN Women is a member of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) and has served as co-chair in 2019 and 2020.
UN Women is the technical lead of the Spotlight Initiative–the global, multi-year partnership between European Union and United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030—at the country, regional and global level. The work encompasses responding to all forms of violence against women and girls, with a 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. The initiative is being rolled-out in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific.
*See also the resource links to numerous tools referred to in the narrative above and under specific measures.
Strengthening of the capacities of several sectoral ministry officials (gender, health, justice, interior, defense) and NGOs in several areas, especially results-based management, protocols for dealing with sexual View More
Strengthening of the capacities of several sectoral ministry officials (gender, health, justice, interior, defense) and NGOs in several areas, especially results-based management, protocols for dealing with sexual violence, forensic expertise, etc.
In Senegal, sector ministry staff benefited from capacity building on GBV. Women leaders, young people through cultural and sports associations and local communities through committees to combat violence.
The continuous support provided in training capacities resulted in an increased capacity of key players, namely the police, the justice sector and the civil society organizations in implementing specific activities and actions in alignment with the recommendations of the conducted evaluation of the law implementation, namely spread awareness activities, assessment of the Rehabilitation Program of Men Offenders of GBV and the integration of GBV data and information in the information system of the operational management of the Ministry of Internal Administration.
UN Women trained 17 young Slam artists, who in turn reinforced the knowledge of 180 young students, girls and boys, who wrote and proclaimed poetic texts on GBV prevention and prevention during a slam contest in Bamako. A pool of 48 police officers was trained on the prevention and management of GBV survivors. 30 men from the media, the written and spoken press benefited from capacity building to raise awareness for prevention and report GBV cases to raise awareness among the population.
The support of the national police in the fight against GBV has been strengthened through a validated action plan that clearly defines the intervention strategy and results by 2020.
UNW Cameroon training police officers. The capacity and the level of ownership of police forces as a primary protection actor on violence against women issues has significantly increased in 2017. Ministry of gender staff working in the call center/GBV mobile Units had also been trained while magistrate of the ministry of justice had also been trained on GBV principles.
Liberia: Capacity building for national institutions with training conducted for 83 Women and Children Protection Officers, 65 prosecutors, city solicitors and court officials and 81 health workers.
Representatives of sectoral ministries, state institutions, men and women in the media (even a declaration of commitment for the promotion of women's rights in Niger), local authorities have benefited from capacity building of the UN WOMEN office on GBV, gender and the promotion of women's rights.
All new personnel receive a welcome letter to alert them that they need to complete all mandatory courses within 90 days of starting and these include three online courses related to ethics:
Direct Link /Contact
Prevention of Workplace Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Abuse of Authority in the Workplace
Online learning programme.
Ethics and Integrity at the United Nations
Online learning programme.
Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
Online learning programme.
In addition to mandatory courses, there are non-mandatory quarterly workshops internally on Ethics and the Workplace provided both to HQ and field-based staff, both in person and online.
In 2017, 3 induction/capacity building sessions on GBV tools for around 12 youth-led NGOs active in different areas in Lebanon was organized. The main focus of the induction is Gender Roles & Societal Expectations from View More
In 2017, 3 induction/capacity building sessions on GBV tools for around 12 youth-led NGOs active in different areas in Lebanon was organized. The main focus of the induction is Gender Roles & Societal Expectations from both Women and Men in Public and Private Spheres. Furthermore, to support the role of youth-led and women-led organizations, UN Women organized in partnership with ABAAD a GBV/Masculinity TOT training workshop in October 2017 which involved 9 CSOs. The 3 days’ workshop aimed at building the capacities of participating NGOs on the concepts of human security, gender based violence and masculinities and addressing negative coping mechanism. The CSOs were able to utilize their newly acquired knowledge and technical skills while conducting GBV awareness raising sessions within their community to address stigma against GBV survivors and reduce all forms of violence.
The UN Women Gender Specialist secondee to OCHA has been working closely with national and sub-national cluster coordinators, gender focal points and humanitarian funding partners to improve gender outcomes, including conducting training on Gender and Age Marker for 90 participants.
In Algeria, UN Women has reached an important milestone, in strenghtening the Ministry of National Solidarity, Family and Women Condition's (MSNFCF) capacities to collect data on women and girls victims of violence. A modernized and common data collection framework integrating international guidelines and indicators on WSV, with a focus on SDG 5, was developed by UN Women in partnership with the MSNFCF. The new administrative databased named "AMANE" will allow the MSNFCF and its different structures to collect comprehensive data on Survivors seeking aid from its services. All 54 professionals from the Directorates for Social Action and Solidarity (DASS) and from Women Shelter's have benefited from a specific training on how to use AMANE with a component on gender-based violence and gender issues.
As part of UN Women efforts in supporting the Palestinian police to improve the Family Protection and Juvenile Unit (FPJU) performance in dealing with VAW cases, and supporting the implementation of the capacity building plan of the FJPU, a two-day workshop has been conducted in Jan 2018 on cybercrimes against women and girls. 24 police officers from FJPU and the cybercrime unit have been targeted and agreed on recommendations to improve coordination between both units whe dealing with VAW cases. following that, UNW facilitated a meeting between heads of the specialized units of the cyber-crime and VAW, to reflect on the workshops main points and present the findings and recommendations. Both units agreed to discuss internally proposed arrangements, including the assginment of the FJPU as the first responder for the cyber-crime -violence against women and the aspects of coordination mechanisms between the units when dealing with VAW casesto ensure privacy and confidentiality.
UN Women has reinforced and developed partnerships with key departments for the provision of essential services to WSV. Justice professionals (magistrates and legal social workers) were assessed and trained on women’s access to justice and on human trafficking, and benefited from South-South exchanges with their counterparts from Palestine. The training aimed for the magistrates focused on the role of the security services during the investigation phases, the investigation of trafficking cases, and the identification and protection of victims. The dozen magistrates-experts will, following the training cycle, will conduct similar trainings to the rest of the magistrates within the Ministry of Justice thus ensuring national ownership with regards to human trafficking best practices.
UN Women and AWLN held a series of workshops with parliamentarians and legal practitioners on SGBV and women’s access to justice in order to raise awarness of the legal framework, gaps adn challenges, and how to promote services for survivors.
UN Women supported the Jordanian National Commission for Women in strengthening its positioning with female MPs, organizing three capacity building initiatives during the reporting for members of the women’s caucus in the Parliament and adressing issues related to their role in legislative writing, budget design and oversight, implementation of the SDGs, and constituency-building through online outreach. At the margins of one of the sessions, a dedicated session to review the draft cyber crime law was also conducted.
In March 2018, UN Women held two consultation meetings with civil society and government partners in Baghdad (24-26) and Erbil (27-29) to analyze humanitarian response plans from a gender perspective. The meetings also served to build a foundation for improved coordination and communication between government and civil society, resulting in the prioritization of the needs of women and girls.
UN Women Egypt in collaboration with the Office of the Public Prosecution and UNODC organized training workshops for 160 members of the Public Prosecution on how to effectively prosecute crimes related to violence against women. Topics covered included gender sensitive evidence-gathering and investigation, understanding the relevant legal articles in the Penal code and identifying common legal and practical issues faced by women victims/survivors, in addition to the provision of support and protection of survivors. Furthermore, in collaboration with the National Council for Women (NCW), training workshops were conducted for 250 recent law graduates on a career path to becoming judges to elevate their competencies to adjudicate cases related to VAW. Additionally, capacity development support was provided to the Women’s Complaints office of the NCW to strengthen their capacity to provide legal awareness and support services to women victims/survivors of violence, in addition to 80 employees of government-run women’s shelters and the supervisory ministry, to provide protection and support services to women victims/survivors of violence.
A regional training workshop conducted by DAW, now part of UN Women, in Bangkok, Thailand, 2006 on follow-up to concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, included violence against women as one of the three areas of focus. DAW also has a programme of support to countries emerging from conflict (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Haiti and Afghanistan) to enhance their capacity for implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action. Violence against women is regularly addressed under the framework of this programme.Hide
In its programming to end violence against women, UNIFEM, now part of UN Women, works to support and build the capacity of duty bearers to fulfil their responsibilities to promote and protect women’s human rights, including the right to be free from violence, with primary focus on the judiciary, law enforcement officials, parliamentarians, government ministries, legal practitioners, and departments of statistics.Hide
DAW, now part of UN Women, convenes training activities and workshops on women’s human rights for government officials, judicial officers and representatives of civil society, at national and regional level. For example, DAW has convened judicial colloquia on the application of international human rights law at the domestic level in Santiago, Chile, 2005, Nassau, The Bahamas, 2004, Arusha, Tanzania, 2003, Bangkok, Thailand, 2002 and Vienna, Austria, 1999, which have also addressed the issue of violence against women. Events such as the foregoing serve to highlight legislative and judicial approaches in addressing violence against women, provide opportunities for exchanging experiences and enhancing cooperation among different stakeholders in efforts to eliminate violence against women.Hide
In February 2008, UN-INSTRAW, now part of UN Women, in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), published the Gender and Security Reform Toolkit that aim to support gender mainstreaming; the participation of women in the security sector; the capacity-building of the security sector to respond to violence against women. The toolkit includes 12 tools and corresponding practice notes on gender and police reform, gender and border management, gender and justice reform, and gender training for security personnel, among other topics. The Gender and SSR Toolkit was launched during the fifty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Advocacy is being carried out among Member States and other stakeholders to encourage the use of the toolkit in ongoing security sector reform processes.Hide
UNIFEM, now part of UN Women, provided capacity development to the Burundian police and judiciary to improve protection mechanisms for survivors of violence against women and to civil society partners, working on violence against women in Indonesia, Thailand, Timor-Leste and the Philippines. It also supported the development of a training course, "Empowerment, HIV and violence against women in the Caribbean." As part of the Safe Cities Programme, UNIFEM and Red Mujer y Habitat supported an online learning course, “Urban violence, insecurity and discrimination”.Hide
In Burundi, UNIFEM, now part of UN Women, , UNDP, UNESCO and UNICEF worked together to provide training and reporting assistance for civil society organizations and police to improve statistics and data collection on cases of gender-based violence.Hide
UN-HABITAT and UNIFEM, now part of UN Women, held a joint workshop during the International Seminar “Cities without Violence, Safe Cities for Women and Girls”, in July 2008 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and presented a joint training initiative on women’s safety audits for cities in Latin America and the Caribbean.Hide