Supporting small
and women-led

© Credits Caption
Increased attention on generating evidence about what programmes are effective in ending violence against women has shown that the specialized expertise of women’s rights and women-led organizations is one of the leading factors in securing a positive change.

At the same time, one of the consequences of the historically low level of funding allocated to initiatives to end and address violence against women has been the relative underdevelopment of the administrative and governance capacities of organizations, particularly smaller organizations, working on these issues. In recognition of this, in 2017, the UN Trust Fund prioritized financial and operational capacity building for small organizations, with a particular focus on small women-led organizations.

A targeted focus on small organizations (those with annual operational budgets under USD 200,000) has enabled the UN Trust Fund to increase outreach to women-led organizations: all of the 32 small grants (less than USD 125,000) awarded since 2014 were to women-led organizations, while 67 per cent of grants went to organizations which self-identified as women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The UN Trust Fund has historically supported self-identified women’s organizations across one third of its portfolio8 and its financial analysis has shown that this type of organization most often tends to request small grants due to their absorptive capacity.9 Offering a small grant-giving modality has improved the UN Trust Fund’s outreach to women’s organizations and increased their chances of accessing both additional funding as well as the capacity-building opportunities offered by the UN Trust Fund.

In March 2017, the UN Trust Fund held a five-day capacity development workshop in New York specifically geared to small grantee organizations. This focused support to grantees to develop their capacities to effectively plan and monitor their projects in a safe and ethical manner, as well as to build capacity, ensures the implementation of processes and requirements in order to be accountable for the funds entrusted to them. According to the assessments undertaken before and after the workshop, participants scored an average of 61 per cent before the workshop and 82 per cent after on a series of questions. In the final evaluations participants gave an average score of 9.2 out of 10 for overall course content, learning environment and the workshop overall. Six months after the workshop, satisfaction remained very high: 98 per cent of respondents to our Annual Partner Survey who reported attending the workshop said that the training was useful or very useful to the organization as a whole.

The UN Trust Fund’s 21st Call for Proposals which closed in December 2017, targeted primarily women’s rights and womenled organizations, with a particular focus to small organizations. The outreach proved successful and a greater percentage of requests came from this group: 41 per cent of all applications were from organizations who self-defined as women’s organizations, compared to 33 per cent in the previous cycle of applications. As regards women-led organizations – that is, organizations where women hold at least 51 per cent of leadership positions, 81 per cent of applications fulfilled this criteria. Moreover, 83 per cent of applications were from organizations where women made up more than 51 per cent of staff.

A total of 644 (49.5 per cent) applications were from small organizations, an increase over the previous year and a testament to the success of the UN Trust Fund’s outreach to small organizations. Of these, 424 (41.7 per cent) applied for the small grants funding modality (grants ranging from USD 50,000-150,000).



The Women’s Justice Initiative (WJI) is a Guatemala-based organization working to stop and prevent gender-based violence against Mayan women in 16 targeted rural indigenous communities. The project delivered a legal literacy course in the Kaqchikel language in which 813 women and girls participated. A survey of participants conducted after the course showed significant changes in attitudes: 6 per cent of women said that they agreed it is justified for a husband to beat his wife – a 71 per cent decrease from baseline surveys – and 85 per cent responded that in cases of domestic violence other people who are not family members should intervene – a 124 per cent increase from the baseline survey.

Almost half of all participants (45 per cent) have already begun to exercise their rights by seeking legal assistance from WJI. Other women report taking steps towards asserting their rights at home by talking about gender equality, sharing what they have learned in the workshops, talking to their children about preventing violence against women and girls, and creating more equitable homes by dividing household chores among all family members.

In the second half of 2017, WJI delivered training to the police and other municipal service providers to increase their knowledge of their obligations when responding to cases of violence against women and girls. With the increased support in training and enhanced coordination mechanisms instituted by WJI, government officials and leaders have improved their response. This in turn has seen an increase in referrals to WJI’s free legal accompaniment services of 178 per cent compared with the first year of the project. Moreover, during 2017, 142 community leaders took part in three workshops run by WJI on violence against women and girls and how to respond to it.

UN Trust Fund support has also helped WJI to seek and obtain further funding to help embed the changes it is bringing about. In 2017 WJI was given a one-year grant of USD 45,000 by Dining for Women, a global giving circle and was also selected by the Dutch development organization Hivos to be a Nexos Programme grantee for 2017-2018.

“Before the workshops, I had the idea that violence was just sexual. If I heard that someone was raped then my mind told me that was violence. But in the course, I learned about all the different types of violence that exist. I learned that if they yell at us, push us, say hurtful things to us, or won’t let us spend money, that this is all part of violence against women. Before, I thought this was just part of living with your husband, but now I’ve learned that isn’t how it should be. Now I have the courage to defend my rights.

I took my sisters-in-law and my daughter-inlaw to participate in the workshops, so that they could learn about their rights. I always remind them that they shouldn’t accept violence and I tell them about my experience to show that as women we can put an end to what they do to us. I have taught my son that he should always respect women and that he should never be violent because it is a crime and no one has the right to hurt another person."

Irma Saquec, community advocate, WJI legal literacy course graduate and survivor of violence


“The project ‘Breaking the silence’ was for me an opportunity to denounce the ‘nonsense’ that was practised in my school by both students and teachers… We [encouraged] the girls to say NO!" ELVIS, BOY VOLUNTEER

In the West Region of Cameroon, the Association pour la Promotion du Development Local (APDEL) implemented “Breaking the Silence”, a project to reduce sexual harassment in school environments, a burning issue in the country and a major impediment to girls completing their studies. In the two years of the project, APDEL worked with local government and schools to develop and institute ethical codes of conduct addressing violence in schools. Fifteen partner schools worked with APDEL to educate 2,542 girls and boys, as well as 63 parents and educational staff. In addition, 14 cases of harassment were formally referred, a figure that reflects many survivors’ continued fear of reporting and a reluctance to approach the authorities and services.


At the end of the project, a survey found that:


of girls felt safer and more respected

(compared to 22 per cent in the initial baseline survey)


of the girls and boys interviewed believed that they had the capacity to defend their rights and report acts of violence

(compared to 76 per cent at the outset of the project).


In China, UN Trust Fund grantee Equality implemented a project promoting justice for survivors of gender-based violence. Its particular focus was empowering women and girl survivors of violence from underserved communities – such as lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and women living with HIV/AIDS – to advocate for their rights and gain access to legal assistance and social services.

In 2017, two new implementing regulations for the national domestic violence law that directly incorporated perspectives from project experts were passed in Yunnan Province. The first will assist future survivors by requiring police to flag high-risk cases and thereby better mobilize resources for survivors. The second involves strengthening the protection order mechanism in the new Anti-Domestic Violence Law.

Nearly 200 grass-roots activists were trained through the project, 95 per cent of whom said it had increased their knowledge of domestic violence. In addition, Equality's partner organization, Women’s Network against AIDS – China (WNAC), carried out the first survey of domestic violence as experienced by women and girls living with HIV/AIDS in China. In total, WNAC surveyed 457 women and girls and conducted in-depth interviews with 19. The final report, produced on the eve of World AIDS Day, garnered considerable attention from the domestic media.

This and other empirical reports and studies will be used as advocacy tools to improve the regulations and policies governing official responses to cases of domestic violence. The project also trained 82 government officials to improve understanding of domestic violence and appropriate legal and police responses. In addition, in the first six months of 2017, Equality provided services for 61 women, an increase over the previous year. A final external evaluation found that the service providers showed increased knowledge and capacity to provide improved support to women survivors of violence.


Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) implemented a small UN Trust Fund grant in Jordan to build on earlier ground-breaking work, including a comprehensive review of Jordanian laws addressing sexual and gender-based violence. ARDD produced a toolkit for readers without a legal background which outlines in an accessible format Jordan's legal framework as it relates to violence against women. The toolkit was tested online and reviewed by experts in various fields, particularly those sectors the toolkit specifically targets, the government and the media, education and health sectors.

The public launch of the toolkit took place in December 2017, hosted by the Jordan National Commission for Women. The event was attended by representatives from government, UNRWA, the newspapers al Rai and al Ghad, and other women's and civil society organizations. ARDD also organized a workshop with civil society organizations from different backgrounds to develop an action plan for implementing the toolkit. This action plan included awareness training, particularly for mothers; strategies to empower refugee women; specialized training for journalists on gender sensitivity in reporting and programming; and working directly with the Ministry of Education to better facilitate gender sensitivity in schools and among teachers.


“It was the first time in my life that another human being listened to my story, believed me and tried to help”. ANONYMOUS PARTICIPANT IN THE WOMEN’S SUPPORT CENTER PROJECT IN ARMENIA

In Armenia, the Women’s Support Center implemented a nationwide project to address primary prevention of domestic violence and respond to survivors. In 2017, the second year of the project, the grantee focused on creating new policies and plans for service providers to protect and provide services to survivors. First drafts of both standard operating procedures and shelter guidelines were finalized by a working group composed of representatives of both state and non-state bodies.

In addition, 443 women and girls received services from project trainees. They included 336 women and girl survivors of domestic violence and 41 women and girls who were either refugees or seeking asylum or internally displaced. These results show that the project is slowly but steadily reaching out to more and more women and girl survivors of domestic violence across Armenia, enhancing their ability to access better quality services.

A final external evaluation showed that among the 44 police officers, 37 service providers and 21 social work students trained, 25 per cent more believed that violence is prevalent in Armenia than had done so at the outset, and there was a decrease of 29 per cent in those who believed it may be justified to use physical force against a spouse.

© Credits Caption



participants took part in a survey to assess the usefulness of the training

“I used the knowledge frequently in collecting the survivor's data in an ethical and safe manner. They gave their consent and I assured them confidentiality.”

Training participant, UN Trust Fund grantee

The UN Trust Fund developed and launched a series of 10 online training modules for its grantees between April and December 2017. By December 2017, 94 people from 25 organizations had successfully completed all the online training. This was twice the number actually required to take part, suggesting that grantees value and have a high level of interest in training.

A total of 45 participants took part in a survey to assess the usefulness of the training in order to collect information on how to improve the current training modules and plan further training to meet the needs of grantee organizations. The overwhelming majority 44 (99 per cent) stated that they found the knowledge and skills provided in the modules useful to them. Almost all had shared the learning either with their entire organization (11 participants), or with some of the staff at their organization (30 participants), indicating the wide reach of the training.

Respondents highlighted the modules on project monitoring, data collection and ethics, as well as reporting requirements as very useful. The survey also indicated that knowledge retention and use is high; a majority of respondents retained and used the training either fully (49 per cent) or partially (47 per cent).


The second annual partner survey of grantees in 2017 aimed to find out which services provided by the UN Trust Fund are most useful to our grantees and which can be improved. The feedback, which was gathered on a confidential and anonymous basis, is an important part of the ongoing dialogue with grantees and also informs UN Trust Fund plans and future activities for improving support to grantees.


The 2017 annual partner survey received 139 individual responses from 83 organizations in the UN Trust Fund’s active portfolio, comprising a highly representative sample of current grantees in all regions.10 One third (34 per cent) of respondents were from small grass-roots organizations, reflecting the part of the current portfolio devoted to small grants.

The overwhelming majority of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience as a UN Trust Fund grantee (94 per cent) and would recommend it as a source of finance to other organizations working on ending violence against women (99 per cent).

In terms of service and advice received from the UN Trust Fund, the support that grantees most valued was the programmatic advice and the guidance provided by the UN Trust Fund Secretariat (91 per cent), closely followed by financial advice and guidance (90 per cent).

Sustainability is a central factor in all the projects supported and obtaining ongoing funding beyond the life of the project plays an important part in this. Most respondents (86 per cent) said that they were confident that securing a UN Trust Fund grant will enable their organization to mobilize additional resources in the future for projects to end violence against women and girls. Almost half (46 per cent) had already succeeded in obtaining funding to continue the current project or to implement related projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls.



said they had raised an additional


during their grant period to scale up, replicate or sustain the results of the UN Trust Fundsupported project


had mobilized a total of


for other projects dedicated to preventing and ending violence against women after receiving a UN Trust Fund grant and capacity-building support

Knowledge exchange among organizations carrying out innovative projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls is something the UN Trust Fund is uniquely placed to facilitate - the vast majority of grantees (some 80 per cent) said they had benefited from this. Knowledge sharing, such as workshops or annual review sessions, was also identified by grantees as one of the areas where they would welcome additional support.

The UN Trust Fund incorporates the survey’s findings into its work. After the 2016 survey, it increased investment in building organizations’ capacity for reliable financial management to accompany increased financial reporting requirements. As a result, 89 per cent of respondents in 2017 expressed satisfaction with the financial management advice received from the UN Trust Fund, up from 81 per cent in the previous year.