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International Partnerships

Ending violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls can take many forms. It is the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.

30% of women over the age of 15 have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner in their lifetime and 18% of women worldwide have experienced sexual abuse in childhood.

In conflict affected countries, displacement, economic insecurity, and marred social networks, lead to more unstable environments, increasing the risk of sexual violence. In some conflicts, rape and/or sexual torture are being used as a deliberate weapon of war.

Preventing and combating Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a precondition for equitable and inclusive sustainable development, as well as an important value and objective in itself.

Girls in Mali are saying no to child marriage

The Spotlight initiative

Spotlight Initiative logo

The EU and the UN launched the Spotlight initiative in September 2017, a strategic partnership to eliminate all forms of VAWG across the world. The initiative is based on an initial unprecedented envelope of €500 million from the EU.

Two years after its launch, the Spotlight Initiative's activities are spanning the entire globe – thanks to the EU's and the UN's engagement, and the support of partners governments, regional bodies and civil society at all levels. 13 countries have already started implementing Spotlight programmes, and around 2/3 of the European Union's initial seed funding of €500 million have already been allocated.

In Africa, Spotlight aims to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence, including harmful practices. The programme worth €250 million is under implementation across Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It will also include a regional component to scale up existing initiatives on fighting female genital mutilation and child marriage and joint activities with the Africa Union.

In Asia, the Spotlight Initiative is focussing on ending female trafficking and labour exploitation. The "Safe and Fair" programme, worth €25 million and implemented through the International Labour Organization and UN Women, aims at ensuring that labour migration is safe and fair for all women in the ASEAN region. It focusses on countries of origin – Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam – and countries of destination – Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

In Latin America, the €50 million initiative focuses on ending femicide, with targeted programmes in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. The regional programme for Latin America has an envelope of 5 MLN focusing on eliminating femicide, and on empowering regional networks.

The Pacific regional Spotlight programme was launched in March 2019 with a budget of €50 million and focuses on ending domestic violence in the region. The Pacific component is made of 4 fully fledged country programmes: Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu as well as a regional programme (€5 million) and a separate CSOs envelope (€5 million).

This will be followed by actions to tackle family violence in the Caribbean region, supported by an envelope of €50 million; the countries selected are Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, Belize, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Further, €32 million are devoted to projects addressing gender-based violence in "forgotten crises". The initiative is now rolling out and includes activities in Yemen, Iraq and Palestine, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Sudan, Mali and Chad; Ghana, Liberia and Mali.

Mae Sot, Thailand

European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights - EIDHR

The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is a financial tool to support human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy projects outside the European Union. The EIDHR cooperates directly with human rights defenders and local civil society organisations without the need for approval of national authorities.

It has the ability to address sensitive political issues such as death penalty, torture, freedom of expression in restrictive contexts, discriminations against vulnerable groups, and can respond to emerging and complex challenges, due to its high flexibility in terms of implementation.

Many projects defending the basic human rights of women and girls are funded through this instrument. Engaging civil society and local organisations who are at the heart of human rights protection is key. The EIDHR also protects these organisations and human rights defenders by strengthening their capacity in difficult environments.