New funding to prevent and end violence against women and girls with disabilities

Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Photo: Vesna Jaric, Disability Summit UK
Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund, announces nine new grants for projects working to prevent and end violence against women and girls with disabilities at the Global Disability Summit in London, United Kingdom. Photo: Vesna Jaric/UN Women/UN Trust Fund

The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) announces nine new grants for projects working to prevent and end violence against women and girls with disabilities, worth a total of USD 2.9 million.*

The special thematic funding was announced on 24 July 2018 by Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund, at the Global Disability Summit in London, United Kingdom: “The UN Trust Fund, with the generous support of its key donors like the UK Government and Norway, is providing this year 9 grants to civil society organizations to address the greatly underfunded work on ending violence against women and girls with disabilities. These projects will aim to strengthen the response capacity of local grassroots organizations working with women and girls survivors of violence”, said Ms. Sisic during the Gender Spotlight Session at the Summit.

The nine grants are part of a new Special Funding Window from the UN Trust Fund specifically aiming to prevent and end violence against women and girls with disabilities. By the end of their three years of implementation, these projects are expected to reach almost 100,000 beneficiaries in five regions of the world, including women and girls with disabilities, workers in government institutions and men and boys.

“Our funding recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are at a higher risk of all forms of violence. They face up to three times greater risk of rape and are twice as likely to experience other forms of gender-based violence”, said Ms. Sisic in her speech at the Gender Spotlight Session at the Summit in London.

The Summit, co-hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the International Disability Alliance and the Kenyan Government, focused on key issues facing women and girls with disabilities including; stigma and discrimination; inclusion in education; routes to economic empowerment; and harnessing technology and innovation. The Summit gathered highest-ranking decision-makers and featured commitments from notable speakers such as the President of Ecuador, the Chairperson of China Disabled Persons’ Federation, the UNDP Administrator, the World Bank CEO and others.

Along with the Chief of the UN Trust Fund, the Gender Spotlight Session featured contributions of Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister of International Development and La Francophonie; Emerine Kabanshi, Zambian Minister for Community Development and Social Welfare; Safia Nalule Juuko, CEO of Human Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities (HURIWD) and member of Parliament in Uganda; Ekaete Judith Umoh, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Nigeria; and Morgen Chinoona; Programmes Manager of Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe.

The UN Trust Fund-funds projects dedicated to preventing and ending violence against women and girls with disabilities, which are implemented by specialist women’s organizations and Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) in order to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, skills and expertise among these two sectors. A project in Zimbabwe implemented by Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ) and funded by the UN Trust Fund, provides specialist services to ensure women and girl survivors of violence with disabilities have access to justice.

Morgen Chinoona, Programmes Manager with LCDZ, who also spoke in the Gender Spotlight Session of the Global Disability Summit said, “As a result of this project there are now notable positive changes. GWWD [girls and women with disabilities], at least in the areas reached by the project, now have increased knowledge on violence against women [and] feel confident to stand-up for their rights. Attitudes of service providers towards GWWD are also improving, for instance [the] Police and Courts are now seeking disability expertise when handling cases of GWWD and facilitating referrals for further support.”

* The UN Trust Fund received 173 applications from 69 countries and territories, requesting a total of USD 64 million, under its first special thematic funding window for addressing violence against women and girls with disabilities. The full portfolio of all new grants from its 21st funding cycle will be announced in August 2018.

Summaries of the new projects focused on preventing and ending

Violence against Girls and Women with Disabilities

Beyond Borders / Haiti

Project Title: Safe and Capable: Haitian Communities Preventing Violence against Girls and Women with Disabilities

Beyond Borders is a human rights organization that helps people build movements to liberate themselves from oppression and isolation. With this project it aims to address the lack of existing knowledge and focus on the intersection of violence against women and disability in order to contribute to changes in social norms, social attitudes and violence prevention.

Working with two partner Haitian organizations that are led by, and represent and serve people with disabilities, the project will focus on girls and women with disabilities of all ages and partner organizations, members of the SASA community network and the general public in Lavale, in Haiti’s South-Eastern Department, which mostly comprises rural villages.

The UN Trust Fund supported project will include carrying out research into the experiences of girls and women with disabilities; creating context-specific materials in Creole for use in interventions using SASA!/Power to Girls methodologies; carrying out community mobilization using SASA!/Power to Girls; advocating for the implementation of relevant laws and policies; providing capacity building and technical support to project partners and increasing their knowledge management capabilities.

Action on Disability and Development (ADD) International / Cambodia

Project title: Preventing violence against women and girls with disabilities in Cambodia: a community mobilization model

A project will be implemented in Cambodia by ADD International, an international organization based in the UK, aims to improve the protection needs of girls and women with disabilities.

Although they experience higher rates of violence from members of their household, primary prevention strategies in Cambodia do not specifically address their experiences. This project will work in six provinces, build on and expand the work of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre, a current UN Trust Fund grantee, and work with girls and women with disabilities who have either survived or are at risk of violence in the family.

Working in partnership with two local women’s organizations, two local disabled persons’ organizations and three women’s networks ADD International aims to strengthen the capacity of disabled women’s networks to lead primary prevention efforts. These include adapting the SASA! community mobilization methodology, using positive role models to contribute to changing social norms and carrying out research to better understand intersectional approaches to primary prevention.

Stars of Hope Society / State of Palestine

Project Title: HEMAYA

The disabled people’s organization Stars of Hope is the only association in Palestine that is run by women with disabilities for women with disabilities. It aims to address and end discrimination, empower women and girls with disabilities to claim their rights, and promote their inclusion.

The Stars of Hope Society project, supported by the UN Trust Fund, aims to improve access to essential, safe and adequate multisectoral services for women and girls with disabilities. It seeks to enhance the inclusion of girls and women with all types of disability in programmes and systems to end violence against women and girls.

The project is being implemented in the West Bank and Gaza in collaboration with Al Marsad, an organization of academics and researchers who work on economic, social and civil rights in Palestine. It focuses in particular on marginalized communities in refugee camps, Area C territories, and Bedouin communities. Its activities include analysing the factors affecting girls and women with disabilities, capacity building, advocacy, sensitization and networking to influence key actors and institutions.

Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM) / Guatemala

Project Title: Acceso a la Justicia y empoderamiento de las mujeres, adolescentes y ninas con discapacidad y victimas de violencia.

A UN Trust Fund grant will support the women’s organization MTM to implement a project to address the needs of some of the most marginalized groups of women and girls at risk of gender-based violence in regions with the highest rate of violence against women and girls in Guatemala. The aim is to encourage positive changes in the lives of women and girls with disabilities through a variety of approaches.

MTM will work to facilitate strategic litigation and promote a comprehensive legal, psychological and social approach to ensure effective support to survivors. The Project will also provide capacity building and training on human rights and access to justice; offer institutional capacity building for the NGOs and other stakeholders collaborating on the project; and maintain ongoing advocacy and dialogue with government authorities.

Rwanda Organization of women with disabilities (UNABU) / Rwanda

Project Title: Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Rwanda

A UN Trust Fund grant will support UNABU, an organization managed by women with disabilities for women with disabilities, to implement a project to reduce economic and sexual violence among this particularly at-risk group in five districts in Rwanda.

The project aims to change attitudes and behaviours by increasing knowledge and awareness of human rights and gender-based violence among women with disabilities in 120 self-advocacy groups, as well as among community members. It will also strengthen access to inclusive essential, safe and adequate multisectoral services for women and girl survivors of violence.

The project will pursue a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, it will support women with disabilities in organizing themselves. At the same time it will engage new actors, including disabled people’s organizations, women’s and human rights organizations, relevant government institutions and other key stakeholders, to ensure that women with disabilities are included more effectively in efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.

National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda / Uganda

Project Title: Reducing Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Amuria District

A grant from the UN Trust Fund will support the National Union of Women with Disabilities to implement a project to reduce violence against women and girls with disabilities in Amuria district in the Eastern Region of Uganda.

The project aims to increase awareness and knowledge among local leaders, families and the women and girls themselves about the rights of women and girls with disabilities and the legal framework protecting them.

By working to increase women and girls’ confidence and knowledge about rights and forms of violence, the project aims to empower them to take appropriate action. Selected women and girls with disabilities will receive training to act as community-based paralegals to promote awareness raising and mobilization and to engage local leaders. The project will also support women and girls with disabilities to form local groups for peer-to-peer learning, enhancing confidence over the longer term and enabling them to speak out.

Women Challenged to Challenge / Kenya

Project Title: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Women and Girls with Disabilities in Kenya

The project, supported by a grant from UN Trust Fund and implemented by Women Challenged to Challenge, will focus on three ethnically diverse locations in Kenya to reduce violence against women and girls with disabilities and increase the rate of conviction of abusers. They work with service providers and front-line responders to improve attitudes, protection mechanisms and multisectoral services.

During the three years of the project Women Challenged to Challenge will work with two partners: Advantage Africa, a UK-based NGO with extensive experience of community development in East Africa, and the Kibwezi Disabled Persons’ Organisation. The aim is to engage women in empowerment activities, support the capacity of service providers and develop and deliver community theatre programmes through the community drama group Twaweza, which has experience in devising and performing plays about violence against women in community settings.

Mental Disability Rights Initiative (MDRI-S) / Serbia

Project Title: Accessible Services for Women with Disabilities Survivors of Custodial Violence

This project upscales and builds on earlier work with women and girls in custodial institutions funded by the UN Trust Fund – that is, residential and psychiatric institutions, community living or supported living arrangements. Women in such institutions are at risk of a range of forms of gender-based violence including invasion of privacy; harmful practices (such as seclusion and restraint); the administration of contraceptives without consent and forced abortions; and physical and sexual harassment and violence.

The earlier project was effective in changing the perspectives of women and girls themselves and in generating interest in the issue among service providers.

This project aims to ensure that women and girls with mental disabilities in Serbia have greater support and feel empowered to live their life free of custodial violence through knowledge and confidence building and by providing services if such abuses occur. The project will also offer intensive training courses, models and standards to service providers in order to help improve services for women with disabilities, some of whom are survivors of custodial violence.

Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe / Zimbabwe

Project Title: Access to Justice for Girls and Women with Disabilities in Zimbabwe

Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ), a former UN Trust Fund grantee, was invited to submit a second proposal for funding based on the impact and learning potential of an earlier project.

This project will focus on six rural and underserved districts with high rates of poverty and HIV/AIDS and which reportedly have very high incidences of sexual violence against girls and women with disabilities.

The project will replicate existing strategies to provide practical assistance to women and girls with disabilities; to enhance their access to justice in cases of sexual violence; and to build the capacities of key service providers.

A new aspect introduced with this project is a focus on working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to standardize and decentralize psychiatric assessment. This is a direct result of lessons learned in the first project, which found that the legal requirement to travel to Harare for psychiatric assessment was a significant barrier to justice.

LCDZ is already working closely with the Government’s Victim Friendly System, which brings together different stakeholders offering post-violence services to survivors of sexual violence in the country, and has established strong partnerships with 35 disabled people’s organizations and other community groups across the country. LCDZ also intends to collaborate with the joint UNESCO, UNFPA and UNDP initiative “Advancing the Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Zimbabwe”.