"All these women [could] count on us in difficult times": Civil society-led lifeline support throughout 2021
On 26 July 2022, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) held a webinar on its Annual Report 2021 to share the key results and achievements of UN Trust Fund grantees in 2021.
The webinar welcomed nearly 200 participants, including representatives from civil society and women’s rights organizations, as well as donors and partners. It included two panel discussions, one focused on operational adaptations and the second on the UN Trust Fund’s three key outcome areas – prevention of violence, access to multisectoral services, and implementation of laws and policies – against a backdrop of multiple, overlapping crises.
Esther Randiche, Executive Director and acting President of UN Trust Fund grantee Initiative pour un Développement Equitable en Haiti (IDEH - Initiative for Equitable Development in Haiti), explained how they ensured continued support to women and girls living with disabilities after a devastating earthquake in 2021, offering women immediate relief support and psychosocial services:
“We were able to strengthen our action in a moment of crisis. Thanks to the UN Trust Fund, all these women [could] count on us in difficult times.”
Morgen Chinoona, Program Officer and End Violence Against Women Technical Lead at the development organization Family AIDS Caring Trust Zimbabwe (FACT), a UN Trust Fund grantee under the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative, reflected on the importance of building organizational resilience by making adaptations, many of which were made possible through additional funding and UN Trust Fund’s flexible grant-making practice developed in response to crises. The adaptations included:
- adopting technology-driven strategies to enable remote working
- intensifying the marketing of their hotline
- ensuring staff’s safety and wellbeing.
Key outcome areas
During the second panel discussion, representatives from three civil society and women’s rights organizations shared strategies they used to achieve results in three areas: services; prevention; and laws and policies.
Marsela Allmuça, Program Manager for the Shelter for Abused Women and Girls in Albania, explained that they ensured access to adequate, comprehensive services to survivors of violence, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, during the COVID-19 pandemic by building the capacity of local shelters and training professionals to offer gender-sensitive services. She said:
“75% of the trained professionals reported an increase in knowledge on offering gender-sensitive services.”
Carolina Buceta, co-founder of the disability rights organization REDI*, and Malena Correa, Project Coordinator of FUSA*, which provides sexual and reproductive health services, highlighted their rigorous advocacy campaign with a coalition of 80 local organizations to change a discriminatory law in Argentina and end forced sterilization of women and girls living with disabilities. Carolina Buceta said:
“There were unacceptable inequalities regarding sexual and reproductive health for people with disabilities.”
In Somaliland, Somalia, where the prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is extremely high, the NAFIS Network (the implementing partner of a UN Trust Fund grantee, the International Solidarity Foundation) engaged with key actors that could influence changes in the community. Ugbad Ahmed Hashi, Project Manager at the NAFIS Network, spoke about the multi-pronged strategy that kept the whole community actively engaged in ending FGM/C. She said:
“One of the biggest achievements was that this [was] a community-driven project.”
Concluding the webinar, Tanya Ghani, Grants Manager at the UN Trust Fund, provided detailed information about the UN Trust Fund’s 2021 Call for Proposals and its 25th grant cycle. She also reiterated the UN Trust Fund’s commitment to continuing collaboration as well as mutual empowerment and learning with its civil society and women’s rights organizations partners.
* Red Por Los Derechos de Las Personas Con Discapacidad
* FUSA Para la Salud Integral con Perspectiva De Genero y Derechos Asociación Civil