Starting in 2021, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) is collaborating with 100+ grantee civil society and women’s rights organizations (WROs) as well as external researchers to co-produce a series of knowledge products on preventing violence against women and girls. Recognizing the essential role of practice-based knowledge produced by civil society organizations (CSOs) and WROs, the UN Trust Fund is exploring 10 different themes through this “Learning from Practice” Prevention series, on preventing violence against women and girls. To amplify this work, the UN Trust Fund is organizing a series of webinars to communicate key findings and create spaces for experts, practitioners and advocates alike to exchange experiences and learnings.
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Webinar #6 was a Special session on Feminist and Women's movements in the context of ending violence against women and girls.
7 June 2022
On 7 June, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) held its webinar in the Learning from Practice: Prevention series, a milestone in its ongoing work to prevent violence against women and girls.
The webinar opened with the key findings and recommendations of the Strengthening a legal and policy environment to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls brief, which was presented by its author, Dr. Selina Palm, Senior Researcher at a feminist research unit at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She highlighted:
the key role of civil society organizations in advocacy and evidence-building for legal and policy reform;
the need to develop the capacity of judicial, law enforcement and government institutions; and
how to improve access to justice for survivors and mechanisms for holding perpetrators accountable.
Role of civil society organizations
During the panel discussion, UN Trust Fund grantees explained how civil society organizations can contribute to changing legal and policy systems to prevent violence against women and girls.
Araddhya Mehtta, Country Director of ActionAid in Myanmar, said that building trust with local communities was one of the first steps they took. This enabled them to implement effectively their prevention programme at the local level and engage community members in discussing violence against women and girls.
Nobuhle Moyo, Project Officer at Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe, said they provided sign language training and engaged with government institutions to enable women and girls living with disabilities to report violence.
In India, the non-profit organization Pragya met resistance from men when they empowered ethnic minority women to make changes in their communities to prevent gender-based violence. In response, Pragya increased their engagement with multiple stakeholders, including the government and law enforcement agencies. Sejuti Basu, Senior Manager of Research & Advocacy, said:
“The key is to solve the problem together.”
Lizette Soria, Policy Specialist (Ending Violence against Women section) at UN Women, highlighted the importance of the RESPECT Women prevention framework and how it can help civil society organizations create and identify context-specific entry points for prevention.
Selina Palm acknowledged the complementary role of civil society and women’s rights organizations in creating an environment to prevent violence against women and girls, while recognizing the challenges faced when trying to influence policy. She added:
“We need to have in-depth conversations about what it means to have a comprehensive survivor-centred view of justice.”
Concluding the webinar, Gemma Wood, Knowledge Management, Monitoring & Evaluation Manager at the UN Trust Fund, introduced an upcoming podcast series called “Pathways to Prevention”, which will offer further opportunities to hear from practitioners about their prevention work.
Continue the conversation on SHINE and keep up to date with all future events and knowledge products relating to the Learning from Practice: Prevention Series. Register here for SHINE, a new global knowledge exchange hub on ending violence against women and girls.
3rd May 2022
On 3 May, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) held its 6th Learning from Practice: Prevention Series webinar.
It began by looking at the key findings and recommendations of the Survivor-centred, multisectoral service provision as part of Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls brief, which was presented by Elisabet Le Roux, Research Director at Stellenbosch University and author of the brief. She highlighted, among other findings:
- the fluid and clear link between prevention and response;
- that survivor-centredness is a continuous process and lies on a continuum;
- the wide range and impact of civil society organizations’ services; and
- the role of civil society organizations in multi-sectoral collaboration.
During the panel discussion, representatives from civil society and women’s rights organizations shared their experiences of providing survivor-centred and multisectoral services.
Janneth Lozano, Director of the Community Support Corporation (CODACOP) in Colombia, commented:
“Violence impacts in different weight on Indigenous people.”
This means, she said, that culturally appropriate services must be provided for Indigenous women survivors of violence to ensure that no woman is left behind.
Her colleague Victoria Neuta Sanchez, Legal Advisor at the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), added that her organization has been working with young people and the elderly to prevent violence against women and girls.
Maja Čečen, Director of the B92 Fund, a non-governmental organization in Serbia, highlighted the importance of listening to survivors to design projects:
“What are their needs? What are their hopes for life after the safe houses? We realized that it is very difficult for them to… think so long into the future.”
Reda Shukry, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Al Shehab in Egypt, explained how they had built two drop-in centres to provide quality services for the most marginalized women. She emphasized the benefits of effective working relationships with state institutions in coordinating and filling the gaps in service provision for survivors.
Tesmerelna Atsbeha, Senior Program Officer at the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, said they had learned from civil society and women’s rights organizations through the Learning from Practice: Prevention Series. She added:
“We need a decolonization of knowledge in research centre[s]… and link other ways of knowing”. She also added that “there is a need for scaled advocacy, targeting policy makers and donors, and strategic communications to deepen the understanding.”
Concluding the webinar, Elisabet Le Roux acknowledged the importance of contextualizing interventions and recognizing the role of civil society organizations and, especially, local women’s rights organizations in delivering essential support services to survivors. Reflecting on the importance of the Learning from Practice: Prevention Series, she added:
“The UN Trust Fund has taken the lead in shifting who we listen to and where our learning comes from.”
1st March 2022
On 1 March, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) and the Spotlight Initiative1 co-hosted a knowledge exchange event on “Resiliency to Crises: Lessons from Civil Society Organizations in the Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls”.
During a session moderated by Melissa Zuniga, President of the Spotlight Initiative Belize Civil Society National Reference Group, representatives from civil society organizations shared their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and other intersecting crises:
- Glory Lueong, founder and Executive Director of the Rural Women Center for Education and Development (RuWCED) in Cameroon;
- Maria Virginia Diaz Mendez, Project Coordinator at the Centro de Estudios de la Mujer (CEM-H) in Honduras; and
- Xiomara Bu, a member of the Spotlight Initiative Civil Society National Reference Group and National Coordinator for the Asociacion Foro Nacional de Sida in Honduras.
In the last session of the event, Gemma Wood, Knowledge Management, Monitoring & Evaluation Manager at the UN Trust Fund presented the key findings of a special paper, Learning from practice: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prevention of violence against women and girls.
The findings include:
COVID-19 deepened the marginalization and invisibility of many communities.
Civil society-led engagement with communities intensified.
Many legal and essential services for women and girl survivors of violence were disrupted and need mobilizing.
Civil society and women’s rights organizations implemented timely and innovative adaptations to help survivors and those at risk of violence.
Gemma Wood also highlighted the responsibility of donors to recognize and properly resource the vital work of civil society and women’s rights organizations:
“A common theme throughout is the importance of investing in civil society’s own organizational resilience and ability to adapt.”
Read more about civil society organizations' experience during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
1st February 2022
In the first roundtable focused on Adaptive Programming, Dr. Erin Stern presented her key findings and explained why and how programmes adapt.
Two UN Trust Fund grantees shared their experience on adaptive programming.
Sarah Siebert, Violence against Women Prevention Specialist at Beyond Borders, a UN Trust Fund grantee in Haiti, explained: “We listened, and learned and built relationships with disability rights activists (…) and adaptability for us has really rested on that listening and those strong relationships with people in the communities where we work”. Her colleague Emanuela Paul, coordinator at Beyond Borders, added that with community mobilization being a fundamental point or aspect of Beyond Border’s work, “members of the community become actors of change themselves.”
Christin Nabobi, Programme Coordinator at The Strategic Initiative for Women in The Horn Of Africa Network (SIHA), discussed the different adaptations they had to implement during the pandemic in addition to the current challenging environment in South Sudan, including:
Using radio programmes to reach a large number of people;
Relying on community response groups for door-to-door awareness raising;
Provide economic activities to women and girls; and
Engaging with community leaders as an entry point into the target communities.
In the second roundtable, Radhika Viswanathan, Director at Vaaka and author of the prevention brief on Resistance and Backlash, presented the key findings and recommendations to donors, practitioners and researchers.
In post-conflict Nepal, resistance in multiple forms from community leaders and government institutions posed clear challenges to the project led The Story Kitchen (TSK). Jaya Luintel, TSK founder said:
“They did not want to talk particularly about sexual violence that was committed against women during Nepal’s armed conflict, and they were trying to omit it from the system”.
This prompted TSK to use storytelling as an approach for training women survivors as justice reporters and create safe spaces for women to share their stories.
In Nicaragua, MADRE and its partner organization Wangki Tangni (represented by Igdalia Rojas, Program Officer, Capacity Bridging and Larissa Escobar, Executive Director, respectively) responded to resistance from men and government institutions by involving community leaders and using different tools such as radio programmes to promote indigenous women’s rights.
Concluding the discussion, Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and its consequences, acknowledged the “increasing pushback” facing civil society and women’s rights organizations that will require collective and holistic support to continue their important work in ending violence against women. She said: “It is so important that civil society organizations and women’s rights organizations continue to enjoy funding, and not just financial support, but also political support from donors, from the international community, because that helps their resilience, that helps their agency.”
11th January 2022
On 11th January 2022, the UN Trust Fund held its 3rd Prevention Webinar, with two thematic roundtables focusing on Training for behaviour change and Adolescent-focused approaches to prevent violence against women and girls.
The first roundtable looked at key findings and recommendations of the Training for behaviour change Prevention brief, presented by Radhika Viswanathan, Director of Vaaka in India and author of the brief.
Two UN Trust Fund grantees shared their experiences of using trainings to prevent violence against women and girls. Hasan Deniz, Director of the Fatherhood programme at ACEV in Turkey, spoke of using fatherhood as an entry point:
“We include men to share and to take part and their responsibility in this issue [of violence against women]”.
Guillemette Vuillard, Programme Manager at ECPAT in Madagascar, shared her experience of adapting trainings’ formats and content during the COVID-19 pandemic to better respond to increased violence against women, by, for instance, focusing more on non-violent communication when engaging with men or by addressing the risks of online sexual exploitation of children.
Khamsavath Chanthavysouk, Policy Specialist at UN Women, Ending Violence against Women Policy Section, explained why working with civil society organizations (CSOs) is key to developing training:
“[CSOs’] knowledge is grounded on the experiences and long years of working with […] the entire ecosystem of the community to change the thinking around gender and around norms”.
The second roundtable discussed Adolescent-focused approaches in preventing violence against women and girls, by mobilizing agents of change amongst and around adolescent girls. Shruti Majumdar, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at the UN Trust Fund presented the key findings and recommendations:
Sanja Pavlovic, a feminist activist working at the Autonomous Women’s Center in Serbia, emphasized the importance of using a peer-to-peer approach to encourage young girls to speak out, while Boitumelo Rakosa, Site Manager for Grassroots Soccer in South Africa, highlighted the practical tips to use sports to educate and inspire adolescent girls.
Shreyasi Jha, Senior Gender Advisor at UNICEF, concluded with key strategies to include and empower young girls as way to prevent violence:
engaging men and boys;
promoting equitable relationships;
putting girls at the center of programming efforts; and
offering strong institutional support and services.
7th December 2021
On 7th December 2021, the UN Trust Fund held its 2nd Prevention Webinar focused on two themes: Exploring intersectional approaches and Mobilizing women as agents of change to prevent violence against women.
The first roundtable opened conversations around key findings and recommendations from the Exploring Intersectional Approaches Prevention brief. The authors, Dr. Elisabet Le Roux and Dr. Selina Palm from the Unit for Religion and Development Research at Stellenbosch University in South Africa highlighted that identifying, focusing on, and including women and girls experiencing multiple and intersecting discrimination in violence against women prevention programming will allow for:
lived experiences to guide relevant design and strategies; and
marginalized groups to build resilience.
Two UN Trust Fund grantees’ representatives, Elsy Camey, Director of Sida I Societat in Guatemala, and Maja Popovic, Programme Associate at the Mental Disability Rights Initiative in Serbia, both emphasized the importance of creating physical and/or virtual spaces for women facing intersecting forms of violence and discrimination to connect and share, which would inform the programmes’s adaptation.
The event also welcomed Dr. Leva Rouhani, Gender Equality Specialist at Global Affairs in Canada, to share experience working with civil society organisations (CSOs) and women's rights organizations from the donors’ perspective. She highlighted:
“We need to work with CSOs, we need to listen to them, and we need to learn from the practical experiences of CSOs. […] They are the best suited to understand the various intertwined dimensions of this mechanism of violence and from this we have made it the focus of our programming, of our action.”
The second roundtable discussion focused on the Mobilizing women as agents of change Prevention brief. Key findings include:
creating safe spaces in the community is important to build strong inter-personal networks for women to support and empower each other; and
identifying and recruiting community facilitators is crucial, particularly for facilitating the dialogue with institutional actors.
Silvia Samame, Executive Director of Red Nacional de Promocion de la Mujer in Peru, and Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, reflect on their past experience as UN Trust Fund grantees working with women to become agents of change because they are critical for breaking the silence on violence.
Concluding the event, Alethia Jimenez, Programme and Policy Advisor on Ending Violence against Women at UN Women, emphasized that: "From UN Women side, mobilizing women and supporting women to be mobilized at the local level is at the center of our policy and programming work”. She added, "We need to be aware of how to draw upon the practices that we heard today from the organizations and ensure that they are survivor women being represented on this".
2nd November 2021
In the first roundtable, Dr. Erin Stern, Senior Associate at the Prevention Collaborative, presented the key findings of the Community mobilization brief and highlighted the need for a context-dependent, adaptable community mobilization strategy to create more enabling environments to prevent violence against women and girls.
Yvette Alal, Technical Manager at Raising Voices in Uganda, discussed the importance of community mapping, activism and recruitment in community mobilization efforts. Urvashi Gandhi, Director of Advocacy at Breakthrough Trust in India, echoed this approach and stressed:
“Young people were the ones to reach out to local and religious leaders, to be able to take steps and create safe spaces […] and build a COVID taskforce”.
The second roundtable focused on the Engaging faith and traditional leaders brief with Elisabeth Le Roux and Selina Palm, researchers at the Unit for Religion and Development Research, Stellenbosch University in South Africa sharing key findings, highlighting the negative and positive role of faith-based and cultural belief systems that impact violence against women norms and attitudes.
Khawla Al Azraq, Director of the Psychosocial Counselling Centre for Women in the State of Palestine, said that engaging faith-based actors is, “one of the most effective tools to create change in the mentality and the behaviour of the people in [their] community”, in the prevention of gender-based violence against women”. Robert Tia, Chief of mission at CLiRA in Côte d’Ivoire, added that building [faith-based and traditional actors’] capacity and leadership and ensuring that their voices are heard and respected, is critical to preventing harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.
Elizabeth Dartnall, Executive Director of Sexual Violence Research Initiative, concluded the event, noting: “Civil society organizations know what works best for them in their own communities, we must be working with them and learning from them.”