Rising to the Challenge | Spotlight Initiative Impact Report launch - Press Conference
UN Women Executive Director Sima Sami Bahous, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner, and Ambassador of the European Union delegation to the United Nations Olof Skoog, brief reporters on the launch the Spotlight Initiative's impact report for 2020-2021, 'Rising to the challenge'.
Despite COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, some 650,000 women and girls were provided with gender-based violence services through a joint UN and European Union (EU) programme working to stamp out what is arguably one of the most prevalent human rights violations. This is just one of the achievements detailed in the Spotlight Initiative’s impact report for 2020-21, launched in New York on Friday. “COVID-19 continues to exacerbate violence against women and girls in a context of sustained and new backlash against women’s rights globally,” said Sima Bahous Executive Director of UN Women, which supports governments in achieving gender equality. “Now more than ever we need concentrated action to protect the gains made and to guard against reversals.” The Spotlight Initiative is the world’s largest targeted effort to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), reported on some of the activities across the globe. “In Malawi, we are working with community organizations and media partners to raise awareness among educators, young people, and especially boys. These efforts are helping to increase reporting and providing girls and women with faster and more effective support,” she said. Achim Steiner, head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), stated that although strong strategies and legal frameworks do not guarantee the end of gender-based violence, “they are essential to making a dent in this global scourge.” “We have also worked with thousands of parliamentarians, for instance through collaborating with UN Women, in setting up a COVID-19 global response gender tracker to try and allow legislators and policy makers to immediately draw, in the midst of the pandemic, on best practices and the ability to actually act on violence against women, and working with well over 1,000 local and grassroots women’s organizations,” he said. Olaf Skoog, Ambassador of the EU Delegation, said even though incidences of violence against women and girls worldwide have been devastating, the partnership has yielded impressive results. “We always say that if we are to make a better world, it has to start at home. And here at the UN, we are busy on a daily basis trying to resolve the major conflicts of the world. But part of that has to be that we are very effective fighting the violence in our own societies,” he said. “And no society is free of this plight.”