on the ground
ACCESS TO MULTISECTORAL SERVICES
One of the UN Trust Fund priority areas of funding is to improve access for women and girls to essential, safe and adequate multisectoral services. In 2017, the UN Trust Fund supported 39 grantees to improve service provision for survivors of violence by training providers; these grantees trained a total of 5,591 service providers globally.
INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS - THE RIGHT TO HEALTH
Every human being is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health conducive to living a life in dignity. Components of the right to health – such as the principle of nondiscrimination in relation to health facilities, goods and services – is legally enforceable in numerous national jurisdictions. The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, has established the four essential elements to the right to health: availability, accessibility, affordability and access to information.14 As the following example of grantee activities in Viet Nam show, projects supported by the UN Trust Fund are endeavouring to make these rights a reality for women in many parts of the world.
A project implemented by the Institute for Development and Community Wealth in Kien Xuong district, Thai Binh province, Viet Nam, focuses on intimate partner violence against women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, an alarming and underaddressed global health issue. The most significant achievement of the project to date is the increased number of women who now have access to services at health centres to address intimate partner violence; a total of 5,288 women have received these services. In addition, women in the target group have gained knowledge and skills on how to make a safety plan to prevent and mitigate intimate-partner violence. Around 70 per cent of clients felt very satisfied with services, including the attitudes of service providers and their capacity to respond quickly and effectively to clients’ needs.
Professional staff from 10 community health stations, 165 village health workers and Village Women Union (WUM) members in 80 project villages, and 26 health staff at the Provincial Centre for Reproductive Health have received refresher training sessions on intimate partner violence and 90 per cent of the village health workers and WUM members surveyed felt much more confident in communicating with women and their husbands.
In the project villages, 116 husbands and 130 mothers-in-law were visited and 92 per cent noted the importance of providing better care for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding. In addition, 93 per cent of husbands understood the need for and have had the necessary skills training to control their anger; 42 per cent committed to sharing their knowledge on preventing intimate partner violence with their neighbours.
- Intimate partner violence hotline providing information and counselling
- Women who have access to services for intimate partner violence at health centres
- Access to such services via home visits
Projects addressing the needs of groups whose voices have traditionally not been heard make up an important part of the UN Trust Fund’s portfolio, as part of its commitment to support the goal of leaving no one behind. Among the supported projects focusing on underserved groups is that in Myanmar which is working to address violence against sex workers, the first such programme in the country. Specifically, the project is seeking to improve safety and reduce the discrimination and stigma faced by women and transgender sex workers in Yangon, Mandalay, Bago and Myint Kyina.
During the initial six-month reporting period, the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, together with the local partner organization Aye Myanmar Association (AMA), organized a Trainingof- Trainers with 40 sex workers, joined by representatives from a number of civil society organizations and NGOs from four cities in Yangon, on community mobilization and community training on the human rights of sex workers. An advocacy meeting with civil society organizations was also organized, with some government representatives from the National AIDS Programme and Ministry of Social Welfare present.
For the first time, AMA was able to recruit a lawyer and has supported six cases in court brought by sex workers. A crisis centre was also opened in Yangon, where survivors recently arrested or released from prison or the police station are offered health education, referral services for health care, legal counselling by trained staff, including a lawyer, as well as short-term crisis support. The centre is also a safe space for meeting with friends, group discussion and sharing experiences among sex workers. AMA also set up a 24-hour hotline (based in Yangon); most of the calls so far have been to get advice on legal issues. The project will also be piloting the use of a technology called iMonitor for documenting cases of violence, a new concept in Myanmar and indeed in the region.
The Azerbaijan Young Lawyers’ Union set up a pilot project to provide women with free legal, medical and psychological support services. The project also set up the only shelter for survivors of violence currently operating in the country. The project was in part a response to the 2015 Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women which called on Azerbaijan to ensure that women and girl victims of violence have access “to immediate means of redress and protection, including a sufficient number of adequate shelters in all regions”.
The project managed to provide protection and support to 448 women, almost twice the project target. The project boosted the capacities of 10 staff members at the shelter through a series of training sessions held by recognized international experts. The project also managed to sensitize 2,600 community members and 1,400 men and boys through information sessions on the causes and consequences of gender-based violence.
Analysis of the available data indicates an increase in knowledge and awareness of the concepts of gender, gender-based violence and available protection mechanisms among community members (87 per cent in community groups and 72 per cent in male groups). The project’s commitment to include an economic empowerment component has also been successful; 103 women who used the centre's services took part in the economic empowerment trainings over the course of two years and 30 women have established and run a small business of their own.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
“This training had a big added value in my work as a police officer. Before, I could investigate, arrest, send the file to the court, but some days after, I could see that the perpetrator is freed…the court said he was freed because of lack of enough evidence. But since I got this training, 49 I bring enough evidence capable to bring light to the court so that they can prosecute and sentence the perpetrator… [PHR] is the only organization which puts together lawyers, magistrates, police officers, psychologists, and other actors to speak the same language and understand each other’s jargon when it comes to cases of sexual violence.” POLICE OFFICER, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO, PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS PARTICIPANT
Two projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo supported by the UN Trust Fund are working to ensure women and girls have access to comprehensive services.
A project implemented by the Panzi Foundation sought to upscale the internationally recognized holistic Panzi model, which provides integrated, human rights-based support. As part of this project, 591 survivors of sexual violence received medical, psychosocial and legal services. Survivors interviewed for the final evaluation reported significant improvements in their state of physical and mental health. Others stated that thanks to the medical and psychosocial care they received, they were able to return to normal family life and their usual socio-economic activities.
As part of the community mobilization activities, and after training 80 community members, 123 people organized a “popular free expression forum” to discuss taboos, myths and stereotypes related to women’s oppression and ways out of it.
Another project, implemented by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya is working to address gaps in the medical-legal process in order to improve responses to sexual violence against women and girls. PHR’s Programme on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones has been actively engaged in the two countries, both of which have experienced widespread, conflict-related sexual violence and were being investigated for mass crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Both countries have implemented national constitutional and legislative reforms to strengthen the laws supporting stronger responses to sexual violence and both have a growing cadre of trained medical and legal professionals who are skilled in and committed to learning new forensic techniques for gathering evidence to support judicial processes.
Project workshops have brought together local experts to train Congolese colleagues on collaborating across medical, law enforcement and legal sectors to conduct forensic medical evaluations in cases of sexual violence; some 800 professionals have been trained so far. Local trainers have also sensitized nearly 3,000 community members on reporting cases of sexual violence.
In December 2017, the Kavumu Case was concluded with the conviction of 11 men for crimes against humanity for the rape of 37 toddlers and young girls over a three-year period in the village of Kavumu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was a landmark case because a sitting government official was stripped of his immunity and was found guilty for crimes that he and his armed militia committed and because it was the first time that survivors/witnesses were afforded innovative means of protection in court in the country. PHR helped to coordinate the investigation and provided technical assistance to clinicians and police investigators that led to the arrests and convictions of militia members.
“PHR brings great value to the fight against sexual violence. We used to each work separately, but when we work together, it’s much better. PHR has helped us take an integrated approach, and it’s thanks to PHR that we now have this expertise.” LAWYER, WORKING ON THE CHILD RAPE CASES IN KAVUMU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
“FOR THE LONGEST TIME SINCE I WAS BORN I HAD NEVER HEARD ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS AND ESPECIALLY RIGHTS FOR WOMEN. I GREW UP KNOWING MEN ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE RIGHTS. IT IS THE FIRST TIME I HEARD THAT WOMEN ALSO HAVE RIGHTS TO SPEAK, RIGHT TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISION AND ALSO RIGHT TO SAY NO TO HARMFUL PRACTICES LIKE FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION AND CHILD MARRIAGE. I PERSONALLY DID NOT EVEN KNOW THAT WE CAN REPORT CASES OF SEXUAL AND GENDER BASED VIOLENCE LIKE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN OUR COMMUNITY. I TRULY WANT TO THANK IIRR [THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF RURAL RECONSTRUCTION] FOR COMING TO MY VILLAGE.” Mama Rose Lekirpini from Wamba, Sordo Village, Samburu, Kenya
The UN Trust Fund supports a holistic approach to prevention comprising primary, secondary and tertiary approaches. Primary prevention aims to prevent violence and may involve efforts at attitudinal and behavioural change, such as empowerment or community-based awareness-raising programmes. Secondary prevention strategies focus on early detection to prevent violence recurring or progressing, for example through strengthening referral mechanisms and building the capacities of service providers to better identify risk indicators and support survivors. Finally, tertiary prevention aims to prevent fatal outcomes and encompasses initiatives to build and strengthen institutional systems across sectors to respond to violence.
Preventing violence against women and girls is a key element of most projects funded by the UN Trust Fund. The examples of grantee projects set out below illustrate how this holistic approach is delivering sustainable results in communities to prevent and helping to ensure the human rights of women and girls.
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION ON CHILD, EARLY AND FORCED MARRIAGE
In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by more than 100 States, on child, early and forced marriage. The resolution recognizes that the root cause of child marriage is gender inequality and “deep-rooted gender inequalities and stereotypes, harmful practices, perceptions and customs and discriminatory norms”. It also recognizes that child marriage is a human rights violation that disproportionately affects girls and that it perpetuates other violations of human rights.
The Resolution also sets out the responsibilities of governments in terms of changing law and policy, strengthening systems and providing services, and working with families, communities and girls themselves to change social norms. The work of several UN Trust Fund grantees shows how working on these fronts is making strides to prevent and end harmful traditional practices and child marriage.
In 2017, the UN Trust Fund supported 27 grantees to work with 6,332 community and faith group leaders who advocate for changes in behaviours and attitudes towards violence against women and an end to harmful traditional practices. One such project is that being implemented in Kenya by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR).
The IIRR is working to prevent and protect women from violence, with a focus on FGM and early marriage. The approach, called “Learning Our Way Out”, focuses on engaging and empowering communities to establish their own approaches for eradicating violence and other harmful practices. In addition, the project is working to build a community-based referral system and to link survivors to legal support, medical services, psychosocial therapy, shelter and protection in Samburu, Marsabit and Isiolo Counties in northern Kenya. The 6,775 primary beneficiaries of the project include 5,000 women and girls in the region, 500 women and girls living with HIV/AIDS, 75 political activists and 1,200 women and girl survivors of violence.
The project has been able to reach an estimated 5,000 community members in the three target counties through community awareness campaigns using radio broadcasts facilitated by the project. Another estimated 2,000 people have been reached through discussion forums at the village level and over 2,000 other people were reached through community anti-gender-based violence campaigns. This cumulatively amounts to about 9,000 community members as indirect beneficiaries. In addition, 123 teachers have also been trained by the project in various workshops, as have 40 social welfare workers and more than 72 uniformed personnel, more than twice the 30 envisaged at the outset of the project.
“I observed that after we [faith leaders] attended the Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development workshops, I started spending more time helping my wife at home to cook, wash, share ideas and discuss family matters. I am speaking out more against violence against women and girls. I do not make any decision without my wife’s involvement and I am also sharing responsibilities with my congregations. The gender-based violence toolkit has helped me to better respond to real life issues, such as listening before reacting, and it has increased my skills and knowledge to understand my responsibilities as a faith leader. Within my community, people are now constantly reporting gender-based violence cases to find solutions.” IMAM FODAY TURNKARAH, CESTOS, RIVERCESS COUNTY
Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development implemented a project to address gender-based violence in post-conflict Liberia through the engagement of interfaith, Christian and Muslim organizations in six districts of Grand Cape Mount and Rivercess counties.
The final report on the project showed significant changes in terms of respondents who see faith leaders as a source of support for preventing and responding to gender-based violence, who had heard faith leaders speak out against gender-based violence and who believe that the work of faith leaders is leading change.
GRAND CAPE MOUNT
Focus group discussions with women revealed a common sentiment that they feel freer to speak their minds as well as share their experiences of violence with others. While across all three leadership groups (faith leaders, faith-based youth leaders and student leaders), the vast majority reported that they had provided support to women and girls who experienced violence – ranging from 75 per cent of student leaders to 88 per cent of faith leaders in Rivercess County.
Further, an independent final evaluation found that women and girls experience less physical and sexual violence from intimate partners (baseline: 14.8 per cent; endline 5 per cent) and less physical and sexual violence from non-partners (baseline: 16.1 per cent; endline 2.6 per cent).
Faith leaders are increasingly challenging deeply rooted stigma by speaking out against practices that compromise or disadvantage women and girls and, importantly, they are using the knowledge they acquired on the various forms of violence as guidance as they counsel families or refer cases to service providers. However, they have gone further and begun to identify the key roles that they themselves can play in bolstering the support provided by service providers. For example, they are using gender-based violence task force meetings to discuss, strategize and plan together with service providers.
CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
“States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.” Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 24(3)
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which came into force in 1990, is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history – almost every government has made a commitment to be bound by it. However, its promises are far from the reality of the lives of millions of children around the world. UN Trust Fund grantees are working to address this gap by preventing harmful traditional practices.
The UN Trust Fund is supporting the Malian organization AMSOPT to change social norms and provide access to medical and psychosocial services for survivors of FGM. The project’s awarenessraising efforts in the Kayes region, which has the highest rates of FGM in the country, have already led two villages to publicly renounce the harmful traditional practice as well as child marriage, and six others are in the process of doing the same. The two villages held public assemblies bringing together counsellors, women, youth and village leaders to agree on abandoning FGM, and created a committee to ensure the implementation of the decision.
The project trained 60 girls and boys to become peer educators. They have facilitated discussions with 400 girls and boys about ending harmful traditional practices in their villages.
Fatoumata N., one of the peer educators
"I never thought the we actually are raising the victims and the future abusers as well. I used to teach my children how to protect themselves but never actually taught them how to respect others' privacy. I never thought of them as potential abusers – not that they are but I understand that my role was to protect my children as well as the children of others.” A FATHER INVOLVED IN THE WOMEN’S STUDIES CENTER PROJECT
STATE OF PALESTINE
The Palestinian Authority has ratified international human rights treaties, however, the human rights perspective has not been adequately mainstreamed in local legislation. A project implemented by the Women’s Studies Center aims to address sexual violence by building the capacity of stakeholders, including university students, to address it and sensitizing duty bearers to enable them to better identify, address and prevent it. In 2017, the second year of its operation, the project:
- trained 24 community workers and university students and conducted 102 training workshops for 366 parents and 163 workshops for 609 children;
- formed new coalitions with police units and stations and held joint workshops attended by 450 people on addressing electronic harassment;
- supported 61 school counsellors in conducting 1,626 workshops for 6,486 school students, 130 workshops for 1,964 education professionals, including teachers, and 114 workshops for 2,576 parents; and
- implemented media initiatives that reached more than 200,000 beneficiaries, distributed thousands of colouring and story books focusing on preventing and ending violence and hundreds of copies of animated films to young people and disseminated legal brochures to the general public. Thousands of people participated in discussions on these issues.
In Tanzania, Equality for Growth, a local women’s organization, is working to bolster women’s economic rights and reduce the risk of violence by creating safe environments in six markets in two districts of Dar es Salaam where 80 per cent of public markets are located.
Some 2,081 market traders (1,354 male and 727 female) from the six markets took part in the campaigns on the causes and impacts of gender-based violence, as well as on how to report cases.
Between 29 September and 11 October 2017, Equality for Growth conducted knowledge sharing and field awareness sessions for market traders in Mchikichini, Ferry and Temeke Stereo markets. The objective of the sessions was to increase awareness about violence against women and actively engage local market traders in identifying the causes, prevalence, negative impacts and the responses needed to change behaviours. A total of 7,677 market traders (3,700 men and 3,977 women) were reached by these awareness-raising sessions.
Overall, the project has made a significant impact on the situation around market places. Gender-based violence has decreased by at least 81 per cent from the project baseline in 2016. And 86 per cent of women who took part in the endline survey stated that violence against women at marketplaces had decreased.
OF LAWS, POLICIES
Many UN Trust Fund grantees are working not only to improve legislation to bring it into line with international human rights standards, but to implement laws, regulations and protocols to end harmful traditional practices and to encourage states to fulfil their obligation to exercise due diligence to prevent violence, protect victims and ensure their right to justice if violence does take place. In 2017, 32 grantee organizations were supported to reach 22,223 women and girls with free access to legal aid and advice in cases of violence.
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN – GENERAL RECOMMENDATION NO. 35
On 14 July 2017, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women adopted General Recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women. It updates General Recommendation No. 19, which for 25 years had been considered the international normative framework for combating gender-based violence against women.
General Recommendation No. 35 underscores the structural causes of gender-based violence and expands on the multiple and intersecting forms of violence women experience.
Several of the areas highlighted in the General Recommendation are the focus of the work of UN Trust Fund grantees. For example, a project implemented by Restless Development Nepal aimed to address key factors highlighted in the General Recommendation, including increasing awareness of human rights, legislative reform, attitudinal change and women’s empowerment.
“This project made me more empowered. I was president of [a] mother’s group and I tried to speak often on [the] issue of Chhaupadi practice. The project…equipped me with more details and [the] science of menstruation... I am thinking to share more things with the women in this community... I want to tell them that there have been no bad incidents in the recent time due to the hygiene and care we have maintained and we need to continue this." GANGA DEVI BHUL, TRADITIONAL HEALER AND WOMEN'S GROUP PRESIDENT, BADMA, NAWADURGA, DADELDHURA
In Nepal, grantee Restless Development Nepal, in partnership with local NGOs, implemented a project to abolish Chhaupadi, a harmful traditional practice which involves isolating menstruating women and girls. The practice has been banned by the Supreme Court and in August 2017 was made a criminal offence – Restless Development Nepal was among the organizations that were instrumental in getting this new law passed.
By the time the project ended in December 2017, it had reached approximately 45,900 women and girls, far exceeding its projected target of 28,000, and the number of girls and women sleeping inside Chhaupadi huts during menstruation had decreased from 19.4 per cent to 5.5 per cent in the target areas.
The project used youth-led peer-to-peer education to address sensitive issues such as sexual and reproductive health, as well as disseminating information on laws and policies. Youth group members have also worked to spread the message of “Six Sa (Health, Safety, Hygiene, Education, Nutrition and Support)” in the community. The project was implemented in seven districts of the far west region of Nepal: Kanchanpur, Dadeldhura, Doti, Kailalim Acchan, Kalikot and Dailekh.
By the end of the project, 14,461 community leaders had participated in different activities and 97.8 per cent of the girls in the targeted areas had a good level of knowledge about menstrual hygiene and sexual health and reproduction. Only 2.4 per cent of adolescent girls reported not attending school during menstruation, as compared to 6.8 per cent in the baseline survey. This is a crucial development in terms of the impact on the lives of adolescent girls. More than 87 per cent of girls also had a good level of knowledge about forms of discrimination and their consequences compared to the baseline of 67.7 per cent.
ACDemocracia works in Ecuador to promote access to justice for women and girl survivors of violence. The project sought to promote the application of normative frameworks and policies for the protection of women’s rights by influencing legislative reform and changing cultural norms. The grantee also worked with the Decentralized Autonomous Governments to strengthen the institutional response to violence at the local level.
At least 20,000 people received information on women’s right to live free of violence through various publicity initiatives, including broadcasts on the national and international media. Institutional capacity to respond to gender-based violence was strengthened in 13 municipalities following capacity building in gathering, analysing and sharing information on the prevalence of gender-based violence. By providing short six-week courses for 92 people, the project was able to increase the number of women and girls survivors supported to 699, an almost 10-fold increase from the start of the project.
A petition was launched in support of a comprehensive law on violence against women and girls which gathered 27,000 physical and 10,000 electronic signatures from all over the country. ACDemocracia, along with the National Coalition of Women and UN Women advocated for the adoption of a new Comprehensive Law for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women, which was approved with 90 per cent of votes cast in favour in parliament, building on the successful work in 2017.
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1325 ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, adopted unanimously in October 2000, was the first Security Council resolution to mention specifically the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls.
The Resolution calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from genderbased violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. It also urges Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict.
The Resolution also calls on all those involved in negotiating and implementing peace agreements to adopt a gender perspective, including addressing the special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and postconflict reconstruction.
UN Trust Fund-supported projects aimed at ensuring access to comprehensive services and to justice for the survivors of gender-based violence in conflicts that ended long ago are seeking to make the provisions of Resolution 1325 a reality on the ground – and showing both the long-term consequences of conflictrelated violence against women and how impunity for these crimes can be overcome.
Associacion Chega Ba Ita (ACBIT) implemented a project to address the repercussions of sexual violence during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste (1975-1999). Together with the NGOs, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), Fokupers and the National Victims Association, the project assisted 326 survivors and reached at least 3,200 women and girls in all 13 districts of Timor-Leste. An increasing number of women survivors have expressed self-confidence in their ability to organize themselves and advocate for their rights. A similar process has started with the children of women survivors.
In 2017 the project continued to develop its database on women survivors of past and recent violence, as well as on children born as a result of sexual violence. Field research focusing on children born out of sexual violence during the Indonesian occupation, many of whom were sharing their experiences for the very first time, provided valuable information both on their mothers’ situation and the recurring cross-generational experiences of marginalization and discrimination. The words of participants shed a very poignant light on the legacy of these human rights violations:
"Our hearts and heads hurt, because we think too much about the things people say, then our eyes become heavy with tears so the things about the past become a heavy load to carry but we remain strong in our hearts."
A range of materials was produced, based on the information gathered in the course of the Participatory Action Research activities, to reach the wider public: short films, books and theatre plays. Some of the short films and most engaging stories have reached a viewership of up to 15,000 people.
Two new national action plans were launched on gender-based violence in Timor-Leste, including a new five-year National Action Plan based on Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security, to which ACBIT contributed significantly.