First UN Trust Fund Grantee Convention | Bosnia and Herzegovina 2019
Date: Thursday, October 24, 2019
For the first time, all current UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) grantees will come together to exchange lessons and knowledge along with government partners, the private sector and UN staff during the 2019 UN Trust Fund Grantee Convention. From 4-7 November 2019, the convention will convene an expert group of over 150 participants on ending violence against women and girls to discuss what works in the field through the lens of global efforts to eradicate violence against women. Grantee participants will contribute from their unique perspective as part of organizations implementing a UN Trust Fund grant in diverse settings and addressing all forms of violence against women and girls.
The opening session of the Convention will take place in the Building of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the participation of the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić, as well as the Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and feature prominent civil society representatives including Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director and Senior Scholar at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University and Hakima Abbas, Co-Executive Director of The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund, will welcome all participants to the convention in the opening session.
During this unprecedented gathering, participant discussions will focus on topics including current issues in ending violence against women programming, managing evidence and knowledge, building effective institutions, and ensuring sustainable funding to organizations working to create change and support survivors around the world. Participants will examine these specific aspects of global work to end violence against women and girls implemented through three generations of active projects funded by the UN Trust Fund.
The convention takes place in the context of important global convenings taking place in 2020; 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, 20 years since the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security, and the development of the UN Trust Fund’s new strategy for 2021-2025.
Contributions and conclusions from participants will inform the UN Trust Fund’s next strategy and convenings for the 25th year of the Beijing Platform for Action.
Opening of the UN Trust Fund Global Convention at the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The first UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) Global Grantee Convention Officially Opened at the Building of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The high-level meeting began with remarks from notable speakers including H.E. Željko Komšić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Charlotte Bunch Founding Director, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers University, Ms. Hakima Abbas, Co-Executive Director, The Association for Women's Rights in Development - AWID, and Ms. Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.
The opening session in Parliament began with remarks from H.E. Željko Komšić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who said that the cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with UN Women and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women opened the way to establishing systemic responses to gender-based violence in the country. ”Their support is of utmost importance for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s development of good practices and in our pursuit of regional cooperation. Violence against women is not and cannot be perceived as a private matter. It is our due diligence to provide support to women and girl survivors of violence and create an environment that prevents violence from occurring in the first place.”
Those in attendance included UN Trust Fund Grantees, government partners, and UN staff. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, addressed participants in the opening session saying, “Today, I have opened the first Convention of UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women grantees here in Sarajevo. The Convention will focus on the progress we’ve made in ending violence against women and girls since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for action and look towards future work to end this human rights violation. The organizations on the ground, like the over 70 UN Trust Fund grantees represented here, have made significant progress on preventing and ending violence against women since 1995, but work remains necessary.”
Welcoming the room to the convention, Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund said “The first UN Trust Fund Global Grantee Convention, taking place here in Sarajevo this week, is truly unique in its gathering of experts and activists from all around the world who know what works in different contexts and are making real changes in the lives of women and girls. Having this global convening shows how far we’ve come since the establishment of the UN Trust Fund in 1996. However, as we mark 25 years of the Beijing Platform for Action next year and the progress made on gender equality, there is still more to be done. Violence against women and girls remains one of the most widespread human rights violations globally and knows no boundaries. We all must work harder to support the global activism with our collective knowledge to ensure a life free of violence for all women and girls.”
The convention takes place in the context of almost 25 years since the adoption of the landmark Beijing Platform for Action. In that light, the opening highlighted global efforts as well as local achievements in preventing and ending violence against women and girls. This week, over 150 participants including UN Trust Fund grantees, government representatives, private sector partners, and civil society representatives will discuss what works in local and national contexts around the world to achieve a world free from violence for women and girls. Drawing on the progress made on the advancement of women’s rights and ending violence against women since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, and the work that came before, Ms. Charlotte Bunch said “ There is growing backlash against feminism, women’s human rights defenders, and those who seek to transform Patriarchy… serious threats”. She went on to say that, “ I’m encouraged that there are many more actors demanding an end to violence against women, from the 'Me Too' movement to farm workers codes on sexual harassment, from 'Ni Una Menos' with massive demonstrations in Latin America to the ‘Girls not Brides Campaign’ and more in this room”. Remarks delivered during the official opening also noted that although efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls have come far, as Ms. Hakima Abbas, said “real solutions take time”.
The event began with actor and activist Gabriella Wright who narrated the powerful story of Alice, a young woman survivor of violence from Zimbabwe, who is deaf. Alice accessed justice by taking her attacker to court, with the support of Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe, a UN Trust Fund-funded project which provides specialist services to girls and women with disabilities.
The outcomes from the First UN Trust Fund Global Grantee Convention will inform the next UN Trust Fund strategy and contribute to ongoing conversations surrounding Beijing +25.
Highlighting priority issues in the prevention of and response to violence against women and girls
The first substantive session of the UN Trust Fund’s Global Grantee Convention focused on highlighting priority issues in the prevention of and response to violence against women and girls. Organizations working to end violence against women and girls, including those funded by the UN Trust Fund, continue to face a complex array of challenges. The session, and subsequent working groups, identified challenges in implementing effective projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls, including issues such as insufficient data and research, barriers to progress in the legal and policy environment, impunity of perpetrators, and emerging challenges such as new forms of violence against women and girls.
Moderated by Ms. Tanya Ghani, UN Trust Fund Grants Manager, the panel consisted of UN Trust Fund grantees including; Ms. Hala Alkarib, Regional Director, SIHA, South Sudan; Ms. Kefah Abu Ghoush, Executive Director, Stars of Hope, State of Palestine; Ms. Humaira Mumtaz Shaikh, Director – Peace and Pluralism, Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre; and Ms. Tatjana Nikolic, Executive Coordinator, Center for Girls, Serbia.
During the panel discussion, the conversation focused on key challenges to creating change in different contexts around the world to end the human rights violation of violence against women and girls. “A challenge we have is that we are dealing with social norms in South Sudan,” said Ms. Hala Alkarib about a project she implements working to end violence against internally displaced women and girls in schools.
In addition, panelists discussed the barriers that often exist in reaching at risk women and girls. Ms. Humaira Mumtaz Shaikh, noted institutional challenges in carrying out prevention activities in Pakistan saying, often “we aren’t able to visit communities”, as well as noting ongoing challenges of a patriarchal society.
Ms. Kefah Abu Ghoush, who runs a project to end violence against women living with disabilities in the State of Palestine, emphasized that efforts must, “consider women with disabilities as key players to drive the change”.
Evidence – why, whose and what we do with it
The 150 participants in attendance for the First Global Grantee Convention taking place in Sarajevo, focused on the production of evidence and knowledge on the causes and consequences of violence against women and girls and effective interventions. The panelists in the session focused on how evidence is produced and what is needed to measure and demonstrate violence reduction and prevention.
Panelists discussing evidence and the role of knowledge generation included; Ms. Elizabeth Dartnall, Executive Director, Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI); Ms. Natsnet Ghebrebrhan, Violence Against Women Prevention Coordinator, Raising Voices; Ms. Sarah Fisher White, Head Violence Against Women and Girls Team, UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID); Ms. Chinyere Eyoh, Executive Director, Sexual Offences Awareness and Victims Rehabilitation (SOAR) Initiative, Nigeria; Mr. Talal Ibrahim, Program Manager, War Child Canada, Jordan. The panel was moderated by Ms. Gemma Wood, Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Manager, UN Trust Fund.
The discussion during the convention focused on concepts of practice-based learning as well as testing, implementing, and adapting evidence-based methodologies to end violence against women and girls. Ms. Natsnet Ghebrebrhan discussed specific research and learning approaches, saying that there is, “a lot to learn on what it takes to prevent violence against women”, she want on to say that if an intervention is working, then it is important to know “why is it working, and if it’s not, why not.”
Mr. Talal Ibrahim noted the importance of how data and knowledge generation can inform the day to day programming of projects. “We share best practices and knowledge gained to see how it informs programme design”, said Talal. “Physical abuse and sexual abuse need fast action to be taken […] we have shrunk the response time to refer cases for health services providers”, due to investing in improved data collection methodologies.
By investing in end-of-project evaluations, the findings can inform policy and programming. Ms. Chinyere Eyoh remarked that, “the final evaluation was critical, we needed to show that the project could work, that the intervention could prevent sexual violence against girls”. She continued to say that her organization, SOAR Initiative, was, “able to use evidence that was generated to get more funding to go into more schools as it showed that the project did work”. The UN Trust Fund now features 50 project evaluations in the Fund’s evaluation library as part of its learning hub.
Reflecting on lessons learned from rigorous evaluations measuring effectiveness of projects on rates of violence against women and girls, Ms. Sarah Fisher White said, “yes, we can prevent violence” and went on to note about how evidence and learning can give the, “confidence to say to people that we know this works”.
Following the panel, participants joined working groups to focus together on how to work collaboratively on evidence and learning based practices to put into practice the concept described by Ms. Elizabeth Dartnall; “no single partner or actor can address violence against women on their own”.
Organizational effectiveness: space of possibility
During the UN Trust Fund Global Grantee Convention, grantees discussed core operational principles and the foundations necessary for an organization to effectively serve women and girls. The panelists drew on their experiences and highlighted the need for robust operational systems and plans to ensure long-term sustainable viability and success.
Panelists discussing key operational needs and challenges included Katharine Flatley, Director, Women’s Justice Initiative, Guatemala; Silvia Samamé, Director, Red Nacional de Mujeres, Perú; Pok Panhavichetr, Executive Director, Cambodia Women’s Crisis Center, Cambodia; Marina Iles, Project Coordinator, Autonomous Women’s Center, Serbia; Kanaka Sandhya Yatirajula, Assistant Coordinator Sahayog Society for Participatory Rural Development, India; which was moderated by Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund, and Mildred Garcia, UN Trust Fund Portfolio Manager.
Katharine Flately, from the Women’s Justice Initiative, a young organization working in Guatemala, shared her perspective on the importance of investing not just in programmatic activities, but also in effective operations functions. She said, “we had to ensure that after the project was finished that we could sustain our work directly with our beneficiaries”. Katharine also discussed how investing in the operations of their organization, “allowed us to mobilize resources and double our work”.
Creating sustainable change requires operational systems that ensure strong capacities to effectively serve women and girls. Marina Iles described how the organization, Autonomous Women’s Center in Serbia, utilized results from an audit exercise to understand how to become a stronger organization, and how that shows, “you’re an accountable organization”.
Further, the conversation during the panel highlighted key organizational concepts carried throughout discussions in the convention. “Core funding is so important”, said Kanaka Sandhya Yatirajula, “we are doing social transformation work that involves talking about social injustice and changing social norms – all of this takes a long time”.Sustainable funding for women’s organizations
The level and quality of resourcing for women’s rights and ending violence against women is a key measurable indicator of the level of change that civil society organizations can create in the lives of women and girls. During the Global Grantee Convention, a session focusing on sustainable funding brought together UN Trust Fund grantees and partners from the public and private sector to discuss the ways in which funds currently reach women’s organizations and how to increase resources.
Moderated by Vesna Jaric, Resource Mobilization and Advocacy Manager, panelists included; Marijana Savic, Executive Director, NGO ATINA, Serbia; Kasia Staszewska, AWID; Lisa Mossberg, Global Strategy Coordinator, Sida, Sweden; Lauren Shields, Associate Director of HERproject, BSR; Christa Jakobsson, Assistant Policy Officer, European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers.
During the session, Lisa Mossberg made an announcement of Sweden’s contribution of, “support over 3 years of 9 million US dollars”, for the UN Trust Fund affirming, “Sweden’s longstanding commitment to gender equality”.
Marijana Savic, whose organization, ATINA, employs an innovative strategy to economically empower survivors as well as create its own sustainable funding, described how ATINA, “reinvented the way that we will feel secure that we will provide what [survivors] need and gain skills”.
The panel also highlighted ways that both the public and private sector can move the needle on progress for funding the work of ending violence against women and girls. Lauren Shields discussed how and, “why paying attention to violence against women in supply chain is a critical issue for business, and human rights”. Christa Jakobsson, discussed the commitment to understand, “what we can do to really support women’s organizations and tackle gender-based violence”.
Recommendations on EVAW from Civil Society to UN Women Executive Director
Lama Kilzar, National Programme Officer at Kvinna Till Kvinna, Lebanon and Nurulnabillah (Bella) Hijazu, Research and Resource Development Officer, Empower Malaysia, the two youngest grantee representatives at the UN Trust Fund Global Grantee Convention, presented a set of consolidated recommendations to the UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Conclusion of the UN Trust Fund’s First Global Grantee Convention. The recommendations presented were distilled from thematic working groups held through the week of the convention. Through the active participation of all convention participants, thematic working groups created recommendations for global consultations on Beijing +25, and beyond, as well as to inform the UN Trust Fund’s next strategy.
The consolidated recommendations from Civil Society on Beijing +25 and beyond include:
- EVAW PROGRAMMING
- Donors must ensure that women’s Civil Society Organizations are meaningfully represented and substantially inform funding decisions to establish trust and balance power dynamics.
- Donors must invest in longer term (minimum five years) funding for transformative and durable ending violence against women programming results.
- Invest in capacity development of women’s rights organizations for ethical and safe data collection, documentation and use of knowledge, including for feminist analysis. From the inaugural Convention of UN Trust Fund grantees, in order to move away from the hierarchy of knowledge, such as bringing in international consultants, local capacity for knowledge generation must be strengthened. Civil Society Organizations already struggle to document their everyday practices and experiences, and there is so much tacit knowledge still to be codified, particularly from organizations which work on the frontlines of addressing ending violence against women.
- Incentivize collaboration around knowledge generation and sharing at the regional level, including sharing honest failures and successes. In the context of shrinking spaces for women’s rights organizations and increased competition for limited funding for ending violence against women, there is little incentive to report failure. Donors must create spaces for meaningful and honest knowledge sharing around what does not work in programming in order to understand the ‘why’ and the ‘way forward’. This can be advanced either through existing networks, peer-to-peer partnerships and hubs or through the creation of new hubs for knowledge exchange in regions where they do not yet exist.
- ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS
- Provide capacity building (which includes funding not just training) to organizations around strengthening administration, operational and monitoring & evaluation systems through a feminist principles and values lens. Promote mentorship from other organizations and lead the amplification of the collective voice of the grantees to inform the donor community of Civil Society Organization’s needs.
- Transformative change requires long-term, continuous support. Core funding for women's organizations should be increased, including funding for self-care across all organizations.
- SUSTAINABLE FUNDING
- Funders at different levels must recognize the needs of grassroots organizations and create access to funding sources by adapting policies and funding streams to their needs.
- Create space for a mediating body that can bridge the gap between the economic incentives of the private sector on the one hand and core values and gender politics of women’s rights organizations on the other hand. Find common values and cooperate beyond funds. (match needs with in kind contributions)
- GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS
- Governments and NGO’s should work together to integrate sexual and gender-based violence into education and improve services to change norms.
- Rethink how organizations learn. Knowledge is not only about project-based data; spaces must be created for organizations to share their journey with other practitioners and donors. Women’s rights organizations need time for learning and iteration, but are faced with a heavy emphasis on monitoring, evaluation and reporting by donors. In addition to capturing progress on the reduction of violence, it is also critical that we capture learning on whether organizations have the processes, structures and core values in place that catalyze ending violence against women and girls.
- Promote collective management (shared leadership) as a way to not consolidate power (i.e. bring younger people up; increase passion for new ideas and innovation).
Creativity: How Arts and Activism Inspire Each Other
The final official session of the UN Trust Fund’s First Global Grantee Convention brought together artists, activists, and leaders in the global art community to discuss the role of art and creativity in ending violence against women and girls. The session discussed the role of art in therapy for survivors, art as activism and as a way to take action to prevent and end violence against women and girls. The panel touched on the ways creativity and different art forms can make a difference and reach new audiences to change mindsets to end this pervasive human rights violation.