The European Union on 20 September committed 500 million Euros to a new initiative together with the United Nations focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
Speaking at the launch of the Spotlight Initiative on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly in New York, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said: “The European Union is committed to combatting all forms of violence against women and girls, as they undermine our core fundamental rights and values, such as dignity, access to justice and gender equality. We need first to ensure that we keep women and girls safe, in order to empower them to deploy their full potential.”
The Spotlight Initiative is so named as it brings focused attention to the issue, which is crucial to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today. It occurs worldwide, cutting across all generations, nationalities, communities and spheres of our societies, irrespective of age, ethnicity, disability or other background. Overall more than a billion lives today are touched by violence. It is estimated that 35% of women have experienced violence at some point in their lives. This figure is as high as 70% in some countries. Moreover, more than 700 million women worldwide were married as children before 18. Of those women, more than 1 in 3 – or some 250 million – are married before the age of 15. At least 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries.
The focus of the Spotlight Initiative is also institutional, with funds overseen by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General.
The Initiative will respond to all forms of violence against women and girls, with a particular focus on domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, femicide, trafficking in human beings and sexual and economic (labour) exploitation.
Core areas of intervention will include strengthening legislative frameworks, policies and institutions, preventive measures, access to services and improving data gathering in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean.
Consistent with the principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Spotlight Initiative will apply a rights-based approach, and give particular attention to the most marginalised women and girls in order to ‘leave no-one behind’. It will aim at galvanising political commitments at the highest level and at providing large-scale targeted support, as well as at building new partnerships. It will also raise awareness of the widespread, persistent and detrimental impact of violence against women and girls.