Multilateral Relations

EU and UN call on world leaders and actors to join Spotlight Initiative and end gender-based violence

27/09/2019 - 12:50

Violence against women and girls is a real scourge affecting the latter all across the world every day. As many as 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. To contribute in addressing this global challenge, the EU and UN have launched the Spotlight initiative in September 2017 which is a global initiative at the forefront of the fight to end violence against women and girls.

spotlight initiative


Spotlight provides seed money across the world to support innovative, transformative and tailor made programmes covering a wide range of areas from health services to economic empowerment activities.

On the 26 September, the EU and UN have met in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss the progress and the perspectives of the Spotlight initiative. Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner in charge of International Cooperation and Development attended the meeting which had also a specific focus on Africa. On this occasion, the EU and UN have invited all the countries, heads of State and Government, civil society and local ambassadors to join this global movement and take action.


In Africa, the actions supported by the EU via the Spotlight initiative include, for instance, the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme on ending female genital mutilation in 16 Sub-Saharan countries. The programme aimed at engaging with civil society organizations, men and boys, traditional leaders etc., as to change the social norms, which make the mutilation so largely practiced. Likewise, in Zambia, a programme has been implemented to improve access to comprehensive services for victims and to strengthen the institutional capacity of the authorities to fight against sexual and gender based violence. The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr Denis Mukwege is also being supported for concrete health projects in the DRC in favour of women who are victims of sexual violence.

In Africa, the programme worth €250 million - out of an overall investment of €500 million world-wide - is implemented across Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It also includes a regional approach and joint activities with the Africa Union to scale up existing initiatives on fighting female genital mutilation and child marriage which have both reached epidemic levels on the continent.