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 exploitation and abuse (SEA) and sexual harassment (SH) within UN Women and the UN system as forms of violence against women and girls is a critical area of UN Women’s work. The organization is committed to a zero-tolerance approach for SEA, SH and all other forms of VAWG.
UN Women recognizes that addressing SEA and SH requires a culture of change that looks at the intersectionality of their root causes, including those due to race, age, disability, sexual orientation and of course, gender. Within UN-Women, the organization is thus dedicated to fostering an environment that respects the inherent dignity of all persons, which affords its personnel the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and therefore empowers them to deliver the best possible results for the women and girls it serves.
Furthermore, UN Women has ben actively engaged in the system-wide efforts led by the secretary General in pursuit of a common system-wide approach to combating SEA and SH and is collaborating with various stakeholders within the UN and beyond, using its experience and expertise on eliminating VAWG. A victim-centered approach forms the basis of all its efforts which aimed at bringing about an organizational and cultural change that end SEA and SH, which UN Women will continue to fight for until it is achieved for all.
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.
UN-Women completed the implementation of the recommendations of the independent, victim-centered review of its policies and procedures on tackling SEA and SH in June 2021. Through targeted actions, UN Women was able to View More
UN-Women completed the implementation of the recommendations of the independent, victim-centered review of its policies and procedures on tackling SEA and SH in June 2021. Through targeted actions, UN Women was able to maximize the clarity and cohesion of its policy and governance framework, strengthen its prevention and communication efforts, establish sufficient field capacity and proper operationalization, and ensure accountable and transparent investigations.
In coordination with the UN Electoral Assistance Division (EAD/DPPA) UN Women contributed to enhanced UN staff capacities on addressing violence against women in elections (VAWE) through a dedicated sessions delivered during the EAD-UN Staff College course on: A Political Approach to Preventing and Responding to Electoral Violence (7-16 June 2021), with 39 participants from around the world from UNDP, DPPA, OHCHR, UNMISS and UN Women).
UN Women capacities at the regional and national level have enhanced through its triple mandate and technical leadership on EVAW in Africa region. This is evidenced through the leadership on Africa Spotlight Initiative at both regional and country levels, steep increase in the mobilization of resources, strengthening of partnerships with AUC, regional and national CSOs, government and other partners. UN Women in Africa also by leveraging on the Africa Strategy and harnessing the technical capacities of the team through establishment of a regional EVAW Community of Practice (COP) and sharing of innovation and technical knowledge through South-South learning. This helped immensely in initiating, strengthening and upscaling programs on ‘safe markets and safe public spaces’ in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe; addressing tech violence against girls in education institutions through a research and advocacy document; partnerships with regional traditional leaders in establishing a movement of “Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa (COTLA)” and its launch in the sidelines of the African Union Summit in February 2019 through the President of Zambia in grassroot advocacy and prevention of child marriage, FGM and other harmful practices. Strengthened partnerships with the government and CSOs also helped in technical support in legislative reform, strengthening institutions, establishment of referral pathways and multi-sectoral responses in EVAW in the region.
Technical Support to Country Offices and Partners
ROAP has supported country offices to strengthen capacities on EVAW through dedicated technical support on VAW prevention and Essential Services, webinars, introduction of knowledge products and guidance developed, efforts to establish anti-sexual harassment policies at universities, and providing technical inputs in national EVAWG strategies.
As a response to a social (media) movement against sexual harassment in public space, especially in relation to young actresses and women in the entertainment business, which was started by several actresses in the region of Western Balkans, UN Women Bosnia and Herzegovina mobilized UN agencies to create a joint response to the movement. This initiative gathered relevant portfolios from different UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA) putting forward a mapping of actions against domestic violence, violence against women and children, gender-based violence and a plan for joint action together with the government for a large-scale systemic response to sexual violence.UN Women Kosovo, jointly with UNFPA initiated a multi-sectoral dialogue involving actors such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Agency for Gender Equality/Prime Minister's Office. Through this dialogue, the establishment of provisional quarantine facilities was made possible. UN Women and UNFPA delivered hygiene packages, clothes, PPE and other items to provisional quarantine facilities for gender-based violence and domestic violence survivor cases prior to admission in the shelters.
In Tajikistan, UN Women led the process of institutionalizing PSEA and development the UNCT PSEA plan. Currently PSEA Country Risk Assessment is being developed.
Number of activities to enhance Capacity of UN Entities in Relation to Violence Against Women, including recent GALS training for several UN agencies have been implemented to date.Hide
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.
In August 2007, INSTRAW, now part of UN Women, in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), hosted an expert workshop on gender and security sector reform, which brought together a number of experts in different areas of the security sector (police, military, border management, private security companies, etc.) to discuss issues such as gender training, gender mainstreaming, and an appropriate response to physical and sexual violence against women.Hide
UNIFEM, now part of UN Women, supported the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) and Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) to establish a gender working group in the Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Investigation section. WFP supported the establishment of two Gender Desks in the National Police and in the Ministry of Defence, in Rwanda. The primary task of these units is to assist Concerned National Institutions and other stakeholders to address issues related to gender-based violence.Hide
In Rwanda, UNIFEM, now part of UN Women, supported the training of over 2,000 defence force members and local leaders and support was provided to the national police in drafting training manuals for investigating sexual and gender-based violence.Hide
DAW, now part of UN Women, in cooperation with ESCWA’s Centre for Women, convened a regional capacity building workshop on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women for judges and parliamentarians from 13 countries in Western Asia, in Amman, Jordan, in October 2007. The meeting focused on follow-up to the Secretary-General’s study on violence against women and General Assembly resolution 61/143, and on family law.Hide
UN Women capacities at the regional and national level have enhanced through its triple mandate and technical leadership on EVAW in Africa region. This is evidenced through the leadership on Africa Spotlight Initiative at both regional and country View More
UN Women capacities at the regional and national level have enhanced through its triple mandate and technical leadership on EVAW in Africa region. This is evidenced through the leadership on Africa Spotlight Initiative at both regional and country levels, steep increase in the mobilization of resources, strengthening of partnerships with AUC, regional and national CSOs, government and other partners. UN Women in Africa also by leveraging on the Africa Strategy and harnessing the technical capacities of the team through establishment of a regional EVAW Community of Practice (COP) and sharing of innovation and technical knowledge through South-South learning. This helped immensely in initiating, strengthening and up-scaling programs on ‘safe markets and safe public spaces’ in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe; addressing tech violence against girls in education institutions through a research and advocacy document; partnerships with regional traditional leaders in establishing a movement of “Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa (COTLA)” and its launch in the sidelines of the African Union Summit in February 2019 through the President of Zambia in grassroot advocacy and prevention of child marriage, FGM and other harmful practices. Strengthened partnerships with the government and CSOs also helped in technical support in legislative reform, strengthening institutions, establishment of referral pathways and multisectoral responses in EVAW in the region.
UN-Women continued to support the mainstreaming of gender and development of training sessions on violence against women in politics, which were delivered in the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) 2019 courses on Political Approaches to Preventing and Responding to Election-Related Violence.
The UN Gender Theme Group for the Pacific, co-chaired by UN Women and UNFPA, revised its Terms of Reference to include responses to gender-based violence in emergencies, including the development of Surge Capacity for immediate response in humanitarian emergencies, as well as the development of government-NGO Communities of Practice on gender-based to facilitate capacity-building and prepraredness.Hide
UN Women manages the project Pacific Regional Facility Fund in Support of Organisations and Actions to Eliminate Violence Against Women (EVAW), which is a regional ‘basket fund’ to support a small grants facility for Pacific Island organisations and actions to eliminate VAW.Hide
UN Women provided support to survivor assistance networks and counseling/crisis centers in Algeria (the CIDDEF and BALSAM network), Morocco (the ANARUZ network), and Mauritania (El Wafa crisis center, AMSME), which enabled women survivors of violence (about 830 in Algeria, 1700 in Morocco, and 150 victims of sexual violence in Mauritania) to access psychological and legal advice and support. In Algeria, four new counseling centers joined the BALSAM network, which is now composed of 15 counseling centers. This enlargement enabled the BALSAM network to cover other regions and provide services to women survivors of violence in rural areas. Technical assistance to a leading non-government organization in the area of economic empowerment of women survivors of violence in Morocco resulted in the development of tools necessary to the establishment of a fund to support income generating activities for women victims of Economic Violence Based on Gender.Hide