We submit this statement on behalf of the EU as a donor.
The European Union is a proud supporter of UN WOMEN. Our cooperation spans the globe and has led to measurable results, making a difference in the lives of many women and girls in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and in the EU’s neighbourhood and enlargement regions.
Together, we work in more than 80 countries to end all forms of violence against women and girls, primarily through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, the largest global programme to eliminate violence against women and girls. It is supported by the European Union to the tune of EUR 500 million. A significant part of this investment, approximately USD 140 million, goes directly through UN Women, one of the lead agencies, and to two of its trust funds, UNTF VAW and Women, Peace and Humanitarian Fund.
Madame Executive Director,
We commend not only UN WOMEN’s operational activities but also its crucial support to the Commission on the Status of Women and the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the UN Security Council. And we welcome UN WOMEN’s role as a standard setter on gender in the UN system.
Women and girls have been the most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. They have also been at the forefront of the response and they will be the backbone of recovery. We applaud UN WOMEN's work to document and address the challenges facing women and girls in the COVID-19 context, including rising inequalities and the despicable increase of sexual and gender-based violence.
With the Spotlight Initiative we have been able to redirect over USD 21 million to boost prevention and increase support to victims during the pandemic. This supported the scale-up of existing hotlines, shelters and equipping health, police, justice and social protection sectors for women and girls. And it provided flexible funding and much needed core funding to civil society organisations, notably feminist and women-led organisations, as well as women human rights defenders, in Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea. All of this was possible due to a good collaboration between our organizations.
We are now looking forward to the results of the mid-term assessment of the Spotlight Initiative, which is currently conducted, and then how to take recommendations and further improvements forward together.
COVID-19 is also a test for the UNDS reform. We welcome UN WOMEN’s efforts to work in a "One UN" approach through partnerships with other UN agencies. In that context, the Spotlight Initiative has been a precursor to reform and we are encouraged by UN WOMEN’s work with Resident Coordinators in its implementation, along-side UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF. We call on UN Women - and the UN system more broadly - to continue with implementation of the UNDS reform and the QCPR resolution to achieve demonstrable long-term effectiveness, efficiency gains and transparency. This is particularly relevant at country level, where the benefits of collaborative actions and respective comparative advantages are clearly felt. Two years into the UNDS reform, almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and nine years from 2030, we have no time to lose.
We welcome UN WOMEN’s role in the Generation Equality Forum The EU is one of the co-leaders, together with UN Women on the Coalition on prevention of violence against women and girls under this Forum. We look forward to the continuation of our close collaboration in this respect and to the outcome of the meetings in March (Mexico) and June (Paris). We expect that these events will be an opportunity to also promote the comprehensive and multi-sector approach of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative and showcase some of the promising results.
Our common vision of gender equality and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls is not yet accomplished. We will continue engaging actively in consultations on UN WOMEN’s next Strategic Plan for the period 2022-2024. At the same time, we invite UN WOMEN’s input into relevant EU consultations with Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams in the field, as part of the upcoming EU programming cycle 2021-2027. Our strong commitment to multilateralism, and the beginning of a new financial cycle in the EU, offer a great opportunity for shaping our future cooperation and strategic engagement for the 2030 Agenda.
Distinguished members and observers of the Board of UN Women,
in these challenging times, we have to make sure that special and extraordinary measures required to contain the pandemic do not lead to backtracking on the rights for women and girls. Together, we have to keep our eyes on SDG 5. We cannot afford to lose progress so hard-won.