NEW YORK, United States – The Spotlight Initiative today launched its 2020-2021 impact report, ‘Rising To The Challenge’, which showcases the programme’s success in advancing the rights of women and girls, even as rates of gender-based violence surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The launch was attended by UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and European Union Ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog, as well as members of the international press.

“Spotlight Initiative’s rapid action to adjust its programming during the pandemic provided 650,000 women and girls with quality essential services." - UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous

“Violence against women is on the of the most prevalent human rights violations. We know that it is intensified by other humanitarian crises and we saw that clearly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous. “Spotlight Initiative’s rapid action to adjust its programming during the pandemic provided 650,000 women and girls with quality essential services.”

She also highlighted the programme’s commitment to strengthening civil society partners who ensure that efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls support even the hardest to reach.

“The Spotlight Initiative shifted funds to support more local and grassroots organizations and to ensure their survival. To date, it has allocated $146 million to civil society,” she said.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that the pandemic had made efforts like the Spotlight Initiative increasingly critical.

“Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and closed services, including health facilities and schools,” she said. “The Spotlight Initiative shows the continued need for investment in the prevention of violence… The results that we’re launching today show just what that investment can achieve.”

“The numbers in this report are devastating in terms of what’s happening to women and girls around the world, but there are also some very impressive results presented.” - European Union Ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog

Echoing the need for continued support, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner focused on Spotlight Initiative’s success in the development and adoption of laws and policies that address gender-based violence.

“The Spotlight Initiative has contributed directly to the adoption and strengthening of 84 laws and policies that will contribute to reducing violence against women and girls,” he said. “Strong strategies, legal frameworks, we all know do not guarantee the end of gender-based violence -- but they are essential to making a dent in this global scourge.”
He also highlighted that national spending to address gender-based violence increased by an average 32% last year across Spotlight Initiative programme countries – a sign that the programme had been able to get the issue on national agendas and encourage national ownership.

European Union Ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog reiterated the European Union’s commitment to ending the “global threat” of violence against women and girls and said that the Initiative served as a model of reference for the international community.

“The numbers in this report are devastating in terms of what’s happening to women and girls around the world, but there are also some very impressive results presented,” he said. “We need more donors, and there is more work to be done.”

He also announced the forthcoming launch of a Spotlight Initiative global platform “that will offer a knowledge hub, a community of practice and an advocacy instrument founded in the practical experience of the Spotlight Initiative”.

Read the full report.
 

Watch the launch event below