Overview

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Gender-based violence cuts across all generations, nationalities and communities. In all its forms, it devastates lives and societies around the globe, as the #MeToo outcry showed yet again in 2017.

Sparked by testimonies of women who spoke about their experience of sexual violence and harassment in the world of cinema and film, #MeToo and its momentum opened a space for millions of women to speak about their own similar experiences in different industries, countries and cultures. While they drew courage from each other to speak about their personal and painful experiences, sadly the story about violence in itself was not new.


Worldwide, 35 per cent of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.2 At least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the 30 countries where the practice is most prevalent. In the majority of cases, girls were cut before the age of five.3 More than 750 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday and about 250 million entered into union before the age of 15.4


Women and girls have a right to freedom from violence and discrimination – this is what the international community has guaranteed through the conventions, treaties and standards that States have ratified since the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed 70 years ago.


The UDHR remains a powerful articulation of the aspirations of all those who believe in the “inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights” of every human being. With its adoption, world governments acknowledged that they have a duty to make the rights it contains a reality for their populations, including to do everything in their power to defend, promote and ensure that women and girls could enjoy these rights. The work of UN Trust Fund grantees complements the overall efforts towards achieving the promises of the UDHR and towards ensuring all women and girls can enjoy their human rights. By implementing projects focused on prevention, access to services and the implementation of laws and policies, UN Trust Fund grantees fill the gaps that exist in the implementation and realization of international conventions, treaties and standards. This Annual Report 2017 aims to show some of the bridges between the UN Trust Fund grants, their local contexts and fulfilment of the promises enshrined in international laws and standards.

Violence against girls and women is recognized as a major obstacle to the enjoyment of a whole range of human rights and to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.5 The central importance of fulfilling the promise of gender equality was reaffirmed in 2015 when the world’s leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This explicitly integrated an understanding that women’s empowerment is vital for sustainable progress and in order to address the great challenge of today to leave no one behind. UN Trust Fund grantees continue to be at the forefront of efforts to realize the targets of Goal 5 of the Agenda, in particular eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation, and eliminating all harmful traditional practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and FGM.


In this current context of enhanced visibility of gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls, the UN Trust Fund continues to have a crucial role to play in harnessing the growing awareness to facilitate systemic and lasting change in a coherent and integrated way. As a UN system-wide funding body whose governance includes 21 UN agencies, it is ideally placed to help channel and focus efforts in a consistent and coordinated way, delivering real change in the lives of women and girls.


Every survivor’s story shared is unique, but #MeToo is also an echo and amplifier for the voices of millions of women and girl survivors of different forms of violence in every corner of the world. Among them are many women and girls who, over the past 20 years have been supported by the long-standing work of UN Trust Fund grantees around the world striving to challenge impunity, to empower survivors and to prevent and end all forms of violence against women and girls. This report highlights their achievements during 2017.6

THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR) UNDERPINS THE PRINCIPLES OF THE INTERDEPENDENCE AND INDIVISIBILITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS; WHEN ONE RIGHT IS VIOLATED, IT ADVERSELY AFFECTS THE REALIZATION OF OTHERS.

Anti-Trafficking Action (ASTRA) in Serbia, with funding from the UN Trust Fund, is working with women and girls whose lives are a clear illustration of how violation of the right to non-discrimination is a gateway to other human rights violations.


ASTRA, working with the state Centre for Human Trafficking Victims’ Protection, implemented a project to establish referral procedures for victims of trafficking, many of whom are underage and from the Roma minority, a group which has long faced discrimination. Most of the 8,130 calls received by ASTRA during the two years of project implementation were directly related to human trafficking. In that same period, ASTRA identified 26 victims of human trafficking who had been subjected to labour exploitation, sexual exploitation or forced marriage.


During 2017, over 438 different assistance interventions were provided to ASTRA’s clients, including for 30 potential victims. Almost all beneficiaries stated that the biggest change they experience as a result of ASTRA’s work is that they feel much safer because they know they are not alone and can get support when they need it most.

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The UN Trust Fund Gala on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

“IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS WE HAVE SEEN A SEISMIC CHANGE OF PUBLIC AWARENESS AND PERCEPTION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN… I STAND HERE PASSIONATELY WITH MY HEART TO FIGHT FOR THE FREEDOM OF THOSE ENSLAVED. I’M VERY PROUD OF THE WORK THE UK GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN DOING TO TACKLE THIS HOLISTICALLY, ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSES OF VIOLENCE, ENDING IMPUNITY FOR PERPETRATORS, AND INCREASING THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN AND GIRLS ALL OVER THE WORLD.”

HRH Princess Eugenie of York,

speaking at the UN Trust Fund Gala, 25 November 2017

Voices of survivors were at the centre of the gala hosted by the UN Trust Fund in London on 25 November 2017. These voices provided powerful evidence of the life-changing successes that the interventions implemented by grantees can have on lives and communities. Inspiring testimonies also reflected the growing and increasingly confident body of expertise on effective strategies for addressing violence against women and girls that now exists and the compelling force for change that it represents.


The gala took place on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and brought together people from every sector of society and from around the world. Hosted by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, notable speakers included HRH Princess Eugenie of York; Lord Bates, United Kingdom Minister of State at the Department for International Development; Frances Corner, Head of the London College of Fashion and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London; and Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund.


Coinciding with the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender- Based Violence, the gala also highlighted the urgent need for resources to address the chronic underfunding of this area of human rights work.


“We are focused on breaking the silence, it’s not ok to be quiet about [sexual violence]. We create safe spaces in Nigeria where girls can come together and build capacity on how to exercise their rights”,


Chinyere Eyoh, SOAR in Nigeria

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