BISHKEK, Kyrgyz Republic - The Spotlight Initiative in the Kyrgyz Republic has allocated $200,000 to help address the issue of increased violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Initiative aims to meet the urgent needs of women and girls affected by violence or at risk of violence due to physical isolation and increased economic and social pressure. 

During quarantine, domestic violence cases have increased by more than 60 per cent in the capital city of Bishkek compared to the same period the previous year. This message was channelled to the Commandant of Bishkek, Members of Parliament and the Ministry of Social Development of the Kygryz Republic.

With the support of the Spotlight Initiative, temporary short-term safe spaces have been arranged for women and girls experiencing violence. In addition, technical support is being provided to the government to finalize and guide a multi-sectoral response to gender-based violence (health, social services, law, police, justice, and humanitarian settings). Emergency gender-based violence mobile groups are being created to support women and work is underway to coordinate online psychosocial services and telephone referral mechanisms that link hotlines with crisis centres. 

“For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes," says UN Resident Coordinator in the Kyrgyz Republic, Ozonnia Ojielo. "It is critical to urgently address the increase of violence against women during COVID-19 pandemic through the collective efforts of the government, international partners, civil society, media, and every one of us. Women’s rights and freedoms are essential to strong, resilient societies.”

“We take note of the increase of domestic and gender-based violence during these difficult times in Kyrgyzstan," said the Head of the European Union Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Eduard Auer. "Therefore we are adapting the Spotlight Initiative to address this issue. Together with the United Nations, our implementing partner in Kyrgyzstan, we will work with local civil society partners and government to help those affected by violence and contribute to a safe environment for women and girls.”

The Spotlight Initiative will support civil society-led advocacy campaigns for the prevention of gender-based and domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis. It will invest in digital, awareness-raising campaigns led by local youth and women activists.

The programme also aims to help the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic provide improved multi-sectoral and coordinated services to those affected by violence by finding new ways to continue the provision of services to women during the lockdown. Special attention and support will be given to ensuring women can access safe spaces. The Spotlight Initiative team aims to support to the government in mainstreaming the issue of gender-based violence into the national COVID-19 response plans. The team will continue working with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and civil society to develop better solutions for eliminating violence against women and girls during the pandemic. 

Spotlight Initative launched in the Kyrgyz Republic in January 2020 with the aim of ensuring that all women and girls in Kyrgyzstan live a life free of violence and harmful practices, including child marriage and Ala-Kachuu (bride kidnapping). The programme comprises a set of integrated interventions to develop policies and legislation to protect women and girls, strengthen institutions, prevent violence, provide services to survivors of violence, collect quality data, and support women’s movements and civil society. The programme is implemented by five UN agencies in the Kyrgyz Republic (UN Women, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF and UNODC) under the overall leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

For media inquiries, please contact:
Aiperi Alymbekova
Communications Officer, Spotlight Initiative and UNICEF
+996 777 91 91 43
aalymbekova@unicef.org

Lead image: UNICEF Kyrgyz Republic