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Initial call: How would you spend half a billion euros to end violence against women?

In September, the European Union and United Nations announced the Spotlight Initiative: EUR 500 million to end violence against women. While promising, the role of women’s movements and the amount of funding that will meaningfully reach women’s organisations remain unclear.

Raise your voice to make sure women’s movements have a seat at the table.

The Count Me In! Consortium and women’s rights activists have been pushing for greater accountability and direct funding for women’s movements. In this alert, we share what we know so far about the Initiative and invite you to tell us how you would spend these funds to end violence against women.

Raise your voice

We will use your signatures to strengthen our multilateral advocacy around the Spotlight Initiative. Your commentary will help strengthen the demands and contribute to further regional analysis of these funds. In some cases, we may reach out to develop inputs into additional articles or suggestions directed to the Spotlight Initiative.

What we know (and don’t know) so far about the Spotlight Initiative:


Who will be eligible to receive funds?

Funds will go to approximately 15 countries, we don’t know which. Country criteria are still being developed. As the criteria and/or countries are announced, national and regional women’s rights organisations can play a key role pushing for funds to reach leading VAW efforts and networks.

How will the funds be managed?

A new “multi-partner trust fund” has been established and new managerial positions have been posted, often without reference to expertise in gender and women’s rights.

Will a new funding mechanism be created?

Many women's rights advocates involved in this process strongly agree that the use of existing mechanisms, such as the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, is a less cumbersome and administratively expensive option. We do not want the money wasted building new bureaucracy.

How will the funds be allocated?

The EUR 500 million includes: a current EU call for proposals (EUR 32 million); an ASEAN initiative (EUR 25 million); and approximately EUR 100 million for UNFPA’s work on reproductive health and rights.

Based on discussions with EU and UN representatives, we are advocating for EUR 100 million to be directly allocated for women’s rights organisations above and beyond the already-committed monies. While less than ideal, we believe this should provide a realistic minimum threshold for the funds.

How will civil society be involved?

Initial civil society consultations were held in early October. However, the role and involvement of civil society in the Spotlight Initiative remains unclear. Based on this information and with a commitment to placing women’s voices front and center, CMI! has developed the following recommendations.

Endorse the recommendations

We will provide regular updates as more information becomes available. For any questions or comments, please contact fundher @


Count Me In! (CMI!) is a special joint initiative led by Mama Cash, including the sex worker-led Red Umbrella Fund RUF, together with the Association for Women’s Rights in Development AWIDCREA, Just Associates JASS; three Urgent Action Funds Urgent Action Fund (UAF), Urgent Action Fund Africa (UAF-Africa), and Urgent Action Fund Latin America and Caribbean (UAF-LAC). The Dutch gender platform WO=MEN is a strategic partner for lobbying and advocacy. CMI! is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supports the voices and activism of women, girls, trans people and intersex people who are often most marginalised by their communities.

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