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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Al-Shehab, a twice-funded UN Trust Fund grantee, is quickly adjusting its operations so it can continue to provide essential services to marginalized women and girls in informal settlements in Greater Cairo in ways that are safe for everyone involved.
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In the informal settlements of Ezbet El-Haggana and El-Marg in Cairo, which are home to about one million people, women and girls from some of the most marginalized communities often struggle with poverty, high rates of illiteracy, and barriers to medical, legal and economic services. Starting in 2015, the Al-Shehab Institution for Comprehensive Development, funded by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), established a community drop-in centre focused on providing essential services for women and girl survivors of violence, women living with HIV/AIDS and those at risk, as well as for women domestic workers.
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“Zero tolerance is the goal, public participation is the method”, said Zhao Li, a grassroots activist in China. China’s first law on domestic violence was passed in December 2015, but implementation is yet to include all those at risk. Organizations like Equality , a small feminist NGO, are working to ensure that the law is applied consistently in all cases of violence, while providing support to survivors, especially to women and girls from underserved communities.
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The Women’s Justice Initiative (WJI), supported by a small grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), is working with Mayan women and girls in 18 rural communities in Guatemala’s Patzún municipality. WJI’s programme combines legal literacy courses with mobile legal outreach, and is the only organization taking action to prevent violence against women in these 18 rural indigenous communities.
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UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka visits a Primary School in Khayelitsha to see the impact of a male-founded sports-based programme which fosters girls’ empowerment and addresses violence against women.