The UN Trust Fund has established two special funding windows to focus attention specifically on challenging aspects of ending violence against women that demand more global attention and funding. The purpose of the special windows is to better target funding to address these often overlooked and underfunded areas where violence intersects with either specific target groups or occurs in a particularly challenging context. The windows also have an important role to play in creating a body of practice where organizations working in the same areas can share experiences and best practice, learning through exchange and bolstering each other’s efforts.
Two funding windows have been established in the past two years: one focusing on refugee and forcibly displaced women and girls in the context of humanitarian crises, and the other on women and girls with disabilities.
FOCUS ON FORCED
Women represent almost half of the 258 million migrants and half of the 25.9 million refugees worldwide.15 Yet their needs, priorities and voices are often missing from policies designed to protect and assist women and girls. It is in this context that the UN Trust Fund opened the special window to prevent and end violence against refugee and displaced women and girls.
In its second year, the special thematic window for interventions within the humanitarian context targeting refugee and internally displaced women and girls saw an increase in the number of applications. A total of 112 project proposals were received in the Call for Proposals that closed in December 2017 (compared to 83 in 2016), 73 of which were from self-identified humanitarian organizations. This shows increasing recognition of the UN Trust Fund as a funding mechanism for addressing the specific needs of women and girls in the context of humanitarian crises.
In the funding cycle awarded in 2017 the UN Trust Fund granted USD 2.5 million through the newly established funding window to organizations working to prevent and end violence against refugee and displaced women and girls.
The Arab Women’s Organization opened two new women’s centres in Irbid and Mafraq governorates, north of the capital Amman, in May 2017. The centres mainly serve Syrian women and girl refugees as well as the local Jordanian community by providing case management, legal consultation and referral services. A safe space has already served 465 women with information about their rights, ending violence against women and against early marriage. In addition, the space provides women with vocational and literacy skills training and teaches men and boys about gender equality, gender roles and women’s rights. The grantee is expanding the project’s reach to more remote communities to continue awareness training on legal and psychosocial issues.
In Nuzza and Sahab, two underserved communities south of Amman, the War Child Canada project is supporting women and out-ofschool girls. War Child Canada’s centres run a 15-session programme that includes psychosocial support services for women survivors of violence and life skills classes, focusing on Yemeni, Somali and Iraqi refugee women and their families. It aims to reach 360 people in its first year. Sessions for out-of-school girls focus on mathematics, English and Arabic, and each class serves as a support group led by staff. The project is collecting data and training volunteers, and aims to share the results of a survey with larger humanitarian organizations to improve interventions to support women refugees.
During the first six months of its UN Trust Fund supported project, the Free Yezidi Foundation, operating in Duhok, enrolled 288 women and girls in its trauma and mental health therapy sessions for women survivors of violence which take place in their women’s centre. The project held psychological assessment sessions with 23 women beneficiaries, all of whom are receiving individual follow up interventions, including nine who are attending weekly individual therapy sessions. Several of these women were recently held captive by ISIS. These sessions are ongoing and women report reduced thoughts of suicide and an improvement in their emotional wellbeing. The centre also runs music, art and language classes as part of efforts to reduce stress and helps women prepare for employment through livelihood trainings. It is estimated that another 800 community members have been reached by the project through social media outreach. The grantee has also trained three volunteers as para-professional psychological first-aid workers, with a view to ensuring sustainability beyond this project. Women participants reported that they used the skills and insights they had gained to help their relatives at home who have so far been unable to attend the sessions.
The project implemented in Sulaymaniyah, Duhok and Erbil by ASUDA for Combating Violence against Women, hired and trained six female researchers to collect evidence and monitor sexual and gender-based violence among female Syrian refugees. So far, data on 92 cases of violence within refugee camps and the surrounding urban areas have been recorded. This phase was followed by consultations with camp administrators, service providers and local authorities on strengthening response mechanisms for Syrian refugees, community awareness workshops and legal and psychosocial support for refugee girls at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. The project reached 100 Syrian women through five workshops on legal aid and other services; their willingness to use, and knowledge about, support services increased by 33 per cent from the beginning of the project. Eight additional workshops reached 65 men and 127 women to raise awareness about violence against women and how men and boys can become agents of change in ending violence against women and girls; by the end of the workshops participants’ knowledge about genderbased violence had increased by 125 per cent.
The third grantee in Iraq, Women for Women International, enrolled 527 women and girls in social and economic empowerment training programmes in 2017 in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. Sixty-eight per cent of the women who participated reported an increase in the ability to make their own decisions, such as being more involved in household decisions and in their ability to earn money. Women for Women International, together with their local partner Warvin, have provided social and legal services to an additional 258 women. Warvin lawyers provided support to 17 women survivors of violence. Women for Women International is continuing to train and mentor Warvin to strengthen their organizational and technical capacity to provide protection services in cases of gender-based violence.
FOCUS ON WOMEN AND
“STATES PARTIES RECOGNIZE THAT WOMEN AND GIRLS WITH DISABILITIES ARE SUBJECT TO MULTIPLE DISCRIMINATION, AND IN THIS REGARD SHALL TAKE MEASURES TO ENSURE THE FULL AND EQUAL ENJOYMENT BY THEM OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS" Article 6, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
It is estimated that worldwide, one in five women will experience disability in their lifetime.16 Women and girls with disabilities experience many of the same forms of violence all women and girls experience, however because the experience of disability intersects with multiple forms of discrimination based on gender, as well as other factors, women and girls with disabilities are at heightened risk of many forms of violence.17 They are up to three times at greater risk of rape and are twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. The UN Trust Fund believes that supporting this large and largely overlooked section of society is essential, especially if the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals to “leave no one behind” is to be delivered, hence its decision to focus its funding on projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls with disabilities.
In 2017, the first year of Call for Proposals for this special window, 173 applications were received for funding for projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls with disabilities for a total of almost USD 64 million. Among the applicants were 53 self-identified disabled people’s organizations. This initial response to the new window underscores the need for funding for efforts to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls with disabilities.
The UN Trust Fund already supports projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls with disabilities in line with the human rights guaranteed in the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“When I left the institution, my life changed a lot. I can walk freely. I’ve met new friends. I work. I’ve met new people at work. I live with two roommates in an apartment. I didn’t expect something like this could exist… that you could become independent… Every year on 10 July, I remember it well, I mark the day I left the institution, I celebrate a little. I invite my friends and the professional team and take them for a little treat. It means a lot to me in my life. I am out now and, thank God, I am my own person now!” EUFEMIJA GRUGUROV LIVED IN AN INSTITUTION FROM THE AGE OF 16. WITH THE SUPPORT OF GRANTEE MENTAL DISABILITY RIGHTS INITIATIVE-SERBIA, SHE NOW LIVES IN THE COMMUNITY.
Women with mental disabilities living in Serbia’s institutions are at risk of many kinds of violence. In its recent study, Mental Disability Rights Initiative-Serbia (MDRI-S) documented violence including forced medical treatment, such as the administration of contraceptives without informed consent, and forced abortions and sterilization. MDRI-S is the first organization in Serbia to bring the lives and stories of women with mental disabilities living in custodial institutions to the attention of the public.
MDRI-S has so far trained 60 service providers on how to address violence against women with mental disabilities in custodial institutions and to ensure that those working directly with women with mental disabilities have the awareness and information needed to prevent abuse from occurring. On 30 August 2017, MDRI-S held a joint meeting with the Parliamentary Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality and the Parliamentary Committee On Labour, Social Affairs, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction in the Serbian Parliament. Research findings were presented on gender-based violence in residential institutions and the Chairman of the Committee sent specific recommendations to the Government of Serbia.
Changes in the women’s capacities and confidence, in institutional practices and in the attitude of policy makers, taken together, are setting the stage for profound, consistent and sustainable changes in the lives of women with mental disabilities in Serbia. A total of 110 women involved in the project had increased awareness of protection mechanisms as a result of their participation in interviews, trainings and presentations for service providers and involvement in workshops.
Though the total impact of advocacy was not fully tangible, the project brought a completely invisible issue onto the public agenda, including motivating 10 service providers to widen the scope of their services and programmes to support women with disabilities in custodial institutions, with at least eight of them taking concrete steps towards improving their services.
The project also contributed to the National Strategy on Improving the Position of Persons with Disabilities by 2020 and the accompanying Action Plan, which has important references in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women and the Convention against Torture.
In 2017 MDRI-S won the “Andjelka Milić” Award for its 2017 publication Here the walls have ears, in the category for “the introduction or encouragement of practices that significantly contribute to the establishment of gender equality in organizations, institutions or local communities, based on empirical insights obtained through feminist research and critical masculinity studies”.
A project implemented in Zimbabwe by the Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust (LCDZT) provided specialized services to girls and women with disabilities, including logistical support and sign-language classes, in order to facilitate their access to police units and the courts.
Throughout the three years in which the project operated, 738 girls and women with disabilities who are survivors of violence received practical assistance, such as legal advice, and financial and logistical support to remove barriers to access justice by arranging for the provision of, for example, food, transport, accommodation and survivor-friendly services. For example, between July and December 2017, 148 cases of violence reported to LCDZT proceeded to court following LCDZT support to survivors.
The feedback from women and girls, caregivers and stakeholders confirms that the project has brought violence against women and girls with disabilities to the attention of the public and duty bearers. It has also greatly empowered women and girls with disabilities who are utilizing the acquired knowledge and information to report acts of violence against women in their communities. Through the advocacy efforts of the project and that of other disability actors, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development has explicitly incorporated disability in the current 2017 National Gender Policy. In addition, the Ministry and the LCDZT are working to produce the Policy in accessible formats and the Ministry has also expressed interest in cooperating with the LCDZT as a technical partner after this particular project ends.