Four ways to act NOW

November 22, 2019


“We do not fight alone, ours are collective struggles,” says Bertha Jauregui.

For the past two years, Jauregui, a Peruvian activist, has been working with a local government in Lima to end gender-based violence. Her words, heard in a short documentary that screened last month at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, was a powerful reminder that communities around the globe are organizing and taking action to eliminate violence.

Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive human rights abuses, impacting roughly 35 percent of all women. Many countries have national policies and frameworks to end it, but there is often a gap between normative commitments and the experiences of women and girls. What needs to happen to meet Sustainable Development Goal 5.2 on eliminating violence against women and girls?

UNDP shared four promising answers at the SVRI Forum, the world’s premiere conference on ending violence against women and girls. They drew from an ongoing UNDP global project funded by the Republic of Korea, Ending Gender-based Violence and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (2018-2020), which is carrying out pilots in seven countries. These pilots will also inform the Spotlight Initiative, a US$500 million initiative led by the European Union and the United Nations, including UNDP, to step up efforts to eradicate violence against women girls. Here’s what was shared at the forum:

Scale up what works. There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that gender-based violence is preventable. For example, Indashyikirwa  – a project of the What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls initiative, funded by U.K.’s Department for International Development - contributed to a 55 percent reduction in the odds of women who participated in its couple’s curriculum reporting physical and sexual intimate partner violence and a 47 percent  drop in the odds of men reporting physical and sexual violence. UNDP has adapted Indashyikirwa and other evidence-based interventions such as SASA! and the Common Elements Treatment Approach in Lebanon, Republic of Moldova and Uganda.  

Transform local institutions. Gendered violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum and is always intertwined with other social, economic and political dimensions. When this issue is approached holistically, the whole community is engaged and better policies can emerge.

In Peru, the project is engaging Jauregui and others in partnership with local authorities, for a joint assessment of the social and economic challenges faced by their municipality. This has allowed for a frank and constructive dialogue on possible solutions, including through the transformation of public spaces and the development of a women-led community network. Other pilots have also adopted a similar participatory, citizen-led approach to local planning and budgeting, but with different results based on different needs and perspectives, reinforcing the need for bespoke solutions.

Work across sectors and levels of government. National policies and commitments may not always trickle down, and the local needs, perspectives and solutions are not always shared on a national scale or with non-traditional sectors. Also gender-based violence is a cross-cutting issue with impact across sectors, ministries and geographies, yet it is not typically addressed though coordinated actions. UNDP’s pilots in Indonesia, the Republic of Moldova and Peru are challenging this approach by bringing multiple actors to talk with one another and showcasing the incentives of joint efforts and co-financing, known as the ‘planning and paying’ approach.

Bring on broad new and diverse partners. Through its pilot in Uganda, UNDP is opening up spaces for unconventional partners. This pilot integrates safeguards as well as a SASA!-inspired intervention into a Green Climate Fund wetlands restoration project, with the dual aim to address the social norms that excuse violence against women and girls. The potential benefits of bringing a gender-based violence lens into wider interventions is also being explored in an economic empowerment programme in Lebanon and in the education sector in Bhutan.

The inspiring initiatives showcased by UNDP at the SVRI Forum demonstrate that GBV is preventable. As we approach the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which takes place 25 November to 10 December, let’s take on this collective responsibility to firstly, listening to survivors. Let’s act by removing the barriers that quiet the voices of women and girls, so that they may be heard in every corridor of power, from community-level decision making to the national level and beyond.

Violence undermines all our efforts to create a more sustainable, peaceful, just and equitable world. The SDGs represent the most ambitious global agenda yet. With only 11 years to achieve the SDGs, the theme of the SVRI Forum, The Time is Now, has never been more timely or urgent.

For more details on gender violence and the SDGs you can download SVRI presentations here.  

For more information, please watch the interviews below.