UN Women ROAP is supporting several offices that are engaged in legislative review, by contracting and making available experts on VAW legislation. This expert support has provided analysis and suggestions for legislation in the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam in this time period. The legislative review process is ongoing in all three countries.
In Colombia within the framework of the electoral reform UN Women supported the National Electoral Council and the Congress to define measures to address violence against women in politics. For the first time, a definition of Violence Against Women in Politics and its manifestations was established, in line with the provisions of the CIM-MESECVI Model Law, allocating functions to the National Electoral Council to investigate and monitor cases of Violence Against Women in Politics.
UN Women’s office in Ecuador provided targeted advocacy and technical support to national partners directly contributing to the regulations on VAWP included in the reform to the electoral legal framework (Code of Democracy 2020).
In Mexico, UN Women provided technical assistance to the Federal Legislative bodies during the legal reform process of eight electoral legal frameworks to address and respond to VAWP.
UN Women ESARO in partnership with the country offices, UN partner agencies and the African Union is engaging traditional authorities across Africa by working with AU to launch Council of Traditional Leaders of Africa (COTLA), /Conseil des Autorites Traditionnelles D’Afrique (CONATA), so that it effectively drives a pan-African movement of Traditional Leaders to end child marriage, FGM/C and other harmful practices. Throughout the year the African Union engaged COTLA/CONATA as an advocacy institution following the AU statutory meeting of ministers in charge of Social Development, Labor and Employment who took a decision calling for an extension of the campaign to end child marriage for a five-year period from 2019 to 2023. In the year, COTLA/CONATA convened an annual steering committee meeting in Lusaka through the support of the Republic of the Government of Zambia, and with financial and technical support of UN WOMEN.
UN Women is also supporting the framing of bye-laws to harmonize the national laws with the customary laws in line with the international conventions. At least in 5 countries such initiatives are ongoing, these include, Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Liberia.
In Burundi, The new law No. 1/11 of 20 May 2019 on electoral code reform, improves the level of positioning women on the electoral roll and offers more opportunities to women to stand as candidates in legislative elections. In addition, the code allows women to be elected in their husbands’ origin regions contrary to the provisions of the reformed law which limited the candidacies of women to their origin regions.
In Ethiopia: During the reporting period, UN Women supported the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to undertake a gender analysis of Ethiopia’s draft electoral law. When the law was adopted not including all the proposed changes, UN Women ensured that the legislative committee that was working on directives based on the Electoral Law was provided with a technical support about gender sensitive stipulations to make the derivative legislations gender responsive. The gender analysis identified issues that need to be addressed in terms of affirmative action stipulations, media use during elections, security of voters and candidates, voters that may need assistance during registration and voting and representation of women in different election management bodies etc.
Moreover, UN Women conducted a National Comprehensive Mapping and Analysis of National Laws in Ethiopia as a step towards the elimination of discriminatory laws. The assessment is a comprehensive legislative analysis from a gender perspective to provide an in-depth understanding of the current legal framework and the existence of gaps and discriminatory provisions, with the long-term vision of advocating for law reform to enact new laws or repeal or revise discriminatory legislation. The first draft of the assessment first draft was submitted for review. The gender analysis will explore the vast spectrum of laws to assess their gender responsiveness and will highlight discriminatory provisions and gaps that would require to be repeal, amended or enactment through a law reform process.
Another initiative led by UN Women was the different advocacy sessions towards the adoption of the family law in the Somali region. To this end, an assessment on the general socioeconomic status of women and girls in Somali and Afar regions and barriers hindering the adoption of the family law was conducted. The key findings of the study revealed that in almost all measures of socio-economic indicators including access to education, health, water, electricity, and sanitation, women and girls in both regions have significant challenges compared to other regions of Ethiopia. With regards to the prevalence of VAWG in the two regions, findings of the study show a much higher percentage of sexual violence against women with 14.7 percent in Somali and 13 percent in Afar regions when compared with that of the EDHS, 1% in Somali followed by 4% in Afar.
Most importantly, the study identified the factors hindering the adoption of family laws in Afar and Somali regions to be lack of political commitment, structural and institutional factors (competing priorities and inadequate financing) and social and cultural factors which are highly influenced by religion. The controversy on marriageable age, bigamy, period of widowhood, irregular union, child adoption, and Paternity issues were also among the causes for the resistance towards adopting Family law. UN women will continue popularizing the findings and recommendations of the study and undertaking policy advocacy at different level with the aim of harmonizing the regional family laws with that is the international standards.
The legal adjustment in the main electoral law has been finalized with the legislative drafting team taking some of the recommendations provided. However, the legislative process for matters that will be guided by directives from the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, it is still an ongoing process that will also continue in 2020 which is the election year and beyond.
In regard to the preliminary work on the “Assessment of the discriminatory law” conducted for legal adjustments that will support and recommend the repeal or revision of all formal laws that directly or indirectly discriminate against women and girls, UN Women will continue supporting the Federal Attorney General and other relevant institutions on the legal adjustment based on the recommendations provided.
The draft Somali and Afar assessment on the barriers for adoption of the federal revised family law, which was conducted in 2019, identified key areas that needs better advocacy coupled with continuous dialogues to bring the expected changes. Some of these areas include; enhancing the knowledge and understanding of the grass root community on the benefit of putting in place an alternative family dispute resolution in addition to the customary and religious systems, enhancing capacity of women and men parliamentarians to advocate for the adoption of family law, and facilitate a knowledge exchange with other Muslim dominated countries who have adopted family law that is in line with international standards. Using the existing partnership with the regional government and faith actors, UN Women will work towards the repeal of the existing regional law in 2020.
In Mozambique, the government of Mozambique continued to demonstrate strong commitment on advancing GEWE including fulfilment of regional and international obligations, which are evidenced by the following achievements: approval of the “Lei contra os casamentos Prematuros” (Law against early marriage) (The Law was approved by the Parliament on 18th July 2019 and with its approval early unions in Mozambique are considered a crime. The law condemns until 8 years of imprisonment to adults who consent or obliged a child to accept a union and 12years for an adult who live in a forced union with a child girl); approval of the revised “Lei fa Familia (Family Law) e “Lei das Sucessões” (Inheritance Law). Additionally, 4 other Laws were reviewed to better respond to the issues included in the approved laws, namely: “Lei da Familia”- Family Law (Lei 22. 2019); “Lei da Revisão do codigo Penal”- Law of criminal code (Lei 24 de 2019); “Lei da revisão do Código do Processo Penal”- Law of review of the Criminal process code (Lei 25 de 2019) and the “Lei da revisao do Codigo de execução das Penas” –Law of review of the criminal process code- (Lei 26 de 2019).
In Rwanda, Under the equality in law by 2030 initiative, UN Women provided technical and financial support to the Legal Aid Forum, a network of 38 national and international NGOs, universities, lawyers’ associations, faith-based organizations and trade unions to conduct an assessment aimed at determining whether there are any discriminatory provisions in Rwandan laws. The implementation of this initiative involves different actors from government and civil society organizations through a steering committee put in place for quality assurance. The Legal Aid Forum has submitted a draft report waiting for final validation by stakeholders. The report recognizes tremendous achievements for gender mainstreaming in Rwanda’s legal framework. However, there are still few provisions that need to be worked out through legislative reforms.
In South Sudan, the Reconstituted National Constitution Amendment Committee (R-NCAC) has been working on reviewing the various laws including the security sector laws. UN Women provided technical support in review of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army Act 2009, the National Security Services Act 2014, the Police Service Act 2009 and the Prisons Service Act 2011.
In Sudan, UN Women has supported the women’s movement to voice their concerns and claim the repeal and reform of laws violating women’s human rights such as the public Order Law which was then repealed in December 2019.
In Somalia, UN Women in close collaboration with UNFPA, UNDP and UNSOM is actively engaged in passage of the Sexual Offence Bill and FGM Bill. The Sexual Offence Bill has already been approved by the cabinet of ministers and awaits endorsement at the parliament. The FGM bill is in the final stages of drafting and soon will be presented to the cabinet of ministers. The Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) seeks to serve the purpose of combating sexual violence and consolidating laws of sexual offences, providing for punishment of perpetrators of sexual offenses, providing for procedural and evidential requirements during trial of sexual offenses and other related matters.
In Tanzania, UN Women provided technical and financial support to the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal affairs (MoCLA), Tanzania Women Parliamentary Group (TWPG), Women Fund Tanzania and the Women's Coalition on the Constitution Review and Leadership for advocacy to repeal the following laws that discriminate against women and girls: The Law of Marriage Act (LMA) of 1971 sanctions the marriage of girls as young as 14 years, while requiring boys to be adults. During 2019, the Tanzania Court of Appeal upheld a previous High Court judgment declaring the minimum age of marriage for girls, as set out in the Law of Marriage Act, unconstitutional. As a result, the National Assembly of the United Republic of Tanzania will need to pass legislation bringing this law in line with international standards. UN Women is currently strategizing with and supporting the Tanzania Women Parliamentary Group (TWPG) and the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal affairs (MoCLA) for advocacy to pass the required legislation.
In Uganda, UN Women provided technical support to the government in the legislative developments. Some of these include:
- The Sexual Offences Bill that seeks to consolidate all laws relating to sexual offences and provide procedural and evidential requirements during trial of sexual offences in addition to measures to check sexual harassment in public places.
- Employment Bill 2019 that seeks to amend the Employment Act 2006 to operationalize the provisions of Art.40 of the Uganda Constitution and align it to the ILO convention No.190.
- The Marriage and Divorce bill which brings together all laws governing a Marriage and its dissolution;
- The legal aid bill that seeks to ensure indignant citizens access free legal aid services; and
- The Domestic Violence Act (DVA) which provides protection of women from violence committed to them in a domestic setting
- In Zimbabwe, UN Women supported work on the Marriages Bill by conducting a gender analysis of the bill and supported development of an alternative marriages bill as a reference document to inform parliamentary debates. The Bill seeks to consolidate the laws relating to marriages in Zimbabwe into one Act of Parliament and as such repeal the Marriages Act [Chapter 5:11] and the Customary Marriages Act [Chapter 5:07]. The Bill also criminalizes child marriage and decriminalizes HIV transmission (repealing Section 79 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act), both of which were key advocacy issues for UN Women in the reporting year.
Supported the Ministry of Health and Social Protection in preparing the new National Strategy on Gender Equality 2021-2030, which was approved in June 2021.
Supported the Ministry of Health and Social Protection to revise the Council of Ministers Decision (CoMD) No. 334, 2011 on functioning of coordinated referral mechanisms against gender-based violence. The new CoMD 327/2021 was approved on 2 June 2021
Supported the Ministry of Health and Social Protection to revise the Law on Measures Against Violence in Family Relations in 2020 which brings the law closer to Istanbul Convention principles and standards.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Women supported the Safe network (network of CSOs running shelters and other specialist services) to advocate for changing the Law on protection from domestic violence in one part of the country (Federation BiH) and harmonize it with the Istanbul Convention. In July 2021, the law was adopted in one house of the Parliament and placed in procedure for full adoption. The new law will render wider protection to survivors and be a step towards sustainability of specialist services.
In North Macedonia, UN Women supported the Centre for Research and Policy Making to advocate for the adoption of a new Law on Prevention and Protection from VAW and DV and the amendment of the Criminal Code in compliance with the Istanbul Convention. The EVAW Law was adopted by Parliament in January 2021, while the CC amendment was adopted by Government in July 2021 and is currently pending Parliamentary approval.
In Moldova, UN Women CO supported the development and advocacy efforts for the approval of Law no. 113, which defines for the first time violence against women, so that it covers all forms of violence, it introduces the obligation to specialists of assessing the risks of committing/repeating acts of violence, it provides state-guaranteed legal assistance from the moment the complaint is filled by the survivor, it introduces better monitoring tools of the temporary restraining orders and deliberates on the creation of specialized EVAW units at local level in line with Istanbul Convention and international standards.
In Kosovo, UN Women supported advocacy efforts of the Kosovo Women Parliamentarian Caucus initiative to amend the Constitution by aligning local legislation with international standards. As a result, on 25 September 2020, the Kosovo Assembly voted in favour of amendment of the Constitution to include the Istanbul Convention in the list of its directly applicable international documents. This, combined with the comprehensive inclusion of DV in the Criminal Code as a separate criminal offense, and a specific Law on Domestic Violence, regulating the civil aspects, makes the legal framework in Kosovo on VAW aligned with international and regional standards enshrined in CEDAW, the Istanbul Convention and the European Union (EU) "Acquis".
UN Women, Kosovo is part of the working group on drafting of the Law against Domestic Violence, which is currently in drafting process under the auspices of Kosovo Parliamentary Commission for Committee on Human Rights, Gender Equality, Victims of Sexual Violence During the Conflict, Missing Persons and Petitions.
State bodies in Kazakhstan have enhanced capacity to revise legal and policy framework to strengthen response and prevention of VAW through active participation in working and expert groups in cooperation with the Parliament of Kazakhstan. UN Women provided technical support for expert community and Civil Society organizations. In 2020 UN Women continued supporting the development and adoption of the new draft harmonized national legislation in the field of prevention and combating domestic violence through the review of international best practices and legislation in the field of prevention of domestic violence and on issues of family and gender equality. A member of UN Women Kazakhstan Civil Society Advisory Group, national experts, as well as representatives of the National Women's Machinery worked closely with the Parliamentarians and CSOs to synthesize the best practices and integrate international standards.
In Tajikistan UN Women was instrumental in developing the National Strategy of Activitization of Role of Women in the Society (March, 2021) developed; UN Women substantially contributed to the draft Anti-Discrimination Law, which is being developed.
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.
- UN Women Kosovo jointly with UNFPA assisted the Ministry of Justice in developing an emergency protocol for handling cases of domestic violence during the pandemic.
- UN Women Kosovo liaised with donors to respond to the needs of survivors from non-majority communities: liaised with Embassy of UK to support the shelter in North Mitrovica; with Swiss Embassy to support a women's organization providing essential services in North Mitrovica.
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.
UNFPA provides support, in terms of funding, knowledge management and capacity development to 98 countries, as they implement the Essential Services Package for women and girls subject to violence. In 2021, UNFPA in partnership with other UN agencies published a seventh module of ESP which provides guidance on estimating resource requirements for a minimum package of services.
UNFPA works to make gender-based violence prevention and response services available to marginalized groups, such as refugees, people with disabilities, displaced populations, and indigenous people across 97 countries. As an example of UNFPA's intersectional approach to GBV, the We Decide Programme addresses GBV against women and young persons with disabilities, through strengthened prevention and response including accessible GBV services. The programme also supports women and young persons with disabilities to access SRH services, exercise their reproductive rights, and be empowered to make their own decisions free from discrimination and violence.
Due to its wide network of Offices, UNFPA is present before, during and after disasters. 1.2 million people reached with services related to gender-based violence (prevention, risk mitigation and response) in 46 countries.
UNFPA Regional and Country Offices in 113 settings work to integrate GBV and SRHR services. For example, UNFPA provided integrated, quality services for gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health to 18,460 survivors in eight African countries.
In 2020, 76, 651 girls and women survivors or at risk of FGM received services in health care, social welfare, and access to justice.
In the framework of the EU-funded GLO.ACT project, UNODC launched the UNODC Toolkit for Mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality into Criminal Justice Interventions to Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants.
In Iraq, UNODC supported the Women’s Network Advisory Board and a webinar on the ‘control methods of traffickers', which discussed how perpetrators engage in sexual violence and exploitation.
UNODC continued providing capacity building support to Nigeria and launched support to Mozambique to address sexual and gender-based violence committed by terrorist groups, providing training during the period to Nigerian and Mozambican investigators, prosecutors, and judges to support them to bring perpetrators to justice while respecting human rights. These activities were carried out in cooperation with the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict.
With the support and advice from Senior/Women’s Protection Advisers, personnel in peacekeeping operations facilitate victims/survivors’ access to protection and support services notably through information-sharing about services, referrals and special assistance projects. For instance, as part of an engagement process with armed groups who had abducted hundreds of women and girls in 2018 in Western Equatoria, UNMISS worked with a local faith-based organization to ensure access to medical care, trauma-healing support and livelihood trainings for 80 women and girls in order to support their recovery and transition into civilian life. Building on this initiative, UNMISS/OHCHR supported an additional 40 former abductees in accessing livelihood opportunities, leadership programs and psycho-social support tailored to their needs. Dialogues were also held with their families, communities and local authorities on stigma prevention and prevention and response to sexual violence. UNMISS adopted a survivor-centered approach throughout these efforts by ensuring respect to survivors’ views and decisions and working to enhance availability of assistance services as well as effective rehabilitation programs to empower survivors to start gaining greater control over their lives. MINUSMA partnered with a local women’s rights organization to implement a project in Bamako and Mopti that helped to prevent risks of gender-based and sexual violence related to the pandemic through sensitization sessions and provided dozens of survivors with access to a safe shelter and care services.
UNDP implemented various activities for raising awareness and advocacy to prevent VAWG at both national and local level throughout the year. Through massive events, sessions and campaigns held in cooperation with national authorities and civil societies around the world, thousands of participants were provided with information on types of violence, prevention measures, as well as current laws and state programmes to prevent domestic violence.
UNDP Libya Co-organized a webinar on the topic of Violence Against Women in Elections aimed at bringing together the Libyan High National Election Commission (HNEC), civil society organizations and other stakeholders around a discussion on violence against women in elections and efforts to enhance women’s electoral participation. The webinar was an opportunity to raise awareness and interest in the efforts of election stakeholders to protect women’s electoral participation and discuss avenues for effective cooperation and collaboration between government and non-government entities towards accelerating progress for violence against women in elections.
UNDP India organised dialogues with civil society organisations to better understand ground reality from the context of different population groups. Along similar lines, the office advocated for the inclusion of Redress to GBV as an essential service.
UNFPA engages in advocacy and policy dialogue at national, regional and global levels, to accelerate action towards ending gender-based violence and harmful practices. By the end of 2020, as many as 114 UNFPA Regional and Country Offices were involved in strengthening national legislation and policy.
For example, Gender-biased Sex Selection and Son Preference programmes are spearheading a movement to end GBSS through the development of national costed action plans, policy and legal reforms as well as through a broad sweeping social movement aimed at changing harmful gender norms that drive male preference.