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During the session: “Under the Spotlight: Ending Violence against ALL Women and Girls,” presenters highlighted the importance of recognizing the multiple intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls, and how to ensure that policies and programmes to confront violence “leave no one behind.”
“Violence against women and girls has nowhere to hide. We’re coming for it, in all its forms and manifestations, and around the world,” said Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed who made the keynote address.
The Spotlight Initiative recognizes that women and girls are disproportionately subjected to violence, including femicide, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, trafficking, and harmful practices.
“Violence against women is one of the worst violations of human rights. We must address gender-based violence in all forms. With the Spotlight Initiative, we say enough is enough,” said Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for Cooperation and Development who delivered opening remarks.
At the ECOSOC Chamber at United Nations Headquarters, panelists agreed on the urgency of including women and girls who experience violence and discrimination based, not only on gender but also on ethnicity, nationality, age, disability, income, sexual orientation, and other factors.
In her remarks, Helga Schmid, Secretary General of the European External Action Service, emphasized the need for a collective response. “We need to engage as many as possible international, regional organizations, individual states, but very importantly, non-state actors and civil society organizations.”
Experts included Ana Leticia Aguilar Theissen, Presidential Secretary for Women, who described anti-violence efforts in Guatemala, Lizzie Kiama, an advocate from Kenya who said that women with disabilities were “10 times more likely to experience violence than women without disabilities”, Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women described current international policy and legal mechanisms, Tarcila Rivera from Peru underlined the special challenges faced by indigenous women and girls, and Miki Wali, a Trans and Youth advocate from Fiji urged wider efforts for inclusion of the LGBTQ community in policies and programmes.
The panel was moderated by News Anchor and Producer Munizae Jahangir from Pakistan, daughter of Asma Jahangir, a prominent human rights advocate and former UN Special Rapporteur who died in February. Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka paid tribute to the former Special Rapporteur during her Closing Remarks.
“The women’s movement and the world is poorer without her. She was one of the best: human rights lawyer, feminist, and leader we were blessed with,” Executive Director Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
The Executive Director also applauded the #MeToo movement and women in Hollywood as having energized changes in attitudes about sexual harassment. “We want to continue to forge an alliance with women who are in that [Hollywood] space so that their victory will be everyone’s victory,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
Launched in September 2017, the Spotlight Initiative will deploy targeted, large-scale investments in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific and the Caribbean, aimed at achieving significant improvements in the lives of women and girls.
The EU has made an initial pledge of EUR 500 million inviting other donors and partners to join. The effort is being administered by the UN’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, with the support of UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women, overseen by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary‑General.
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