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Recommendations for Spotlight Initiative’s investment to end violence against women

Women’s movements around the world have been at the forefront of ending violence against women, advancing women’s participation on local, national and global levels and securing relevant legislation and policy for gender equality.

Women’s movements should play a central role as partners defining and implementing the Spotlight Initiative.

These are 10 initial recommendations from the Count Me In! Consortium for the European Union and United Nations's €500 million investment to end violence against women.

Principle: Nothing for us, without us.

  • 1. Of the €500 million initiative, specifically earmark a minimum of €100 million for direct grants to women’s rights organisations (WROs). While we understand that other actors (governments, other civil society organisations) will also be supported, 20% to women’s organisations leading on VAW efforts should be a minimum standard.

This should be above and beyond the current EU call for proposals (€32 million), ASEAN initiative (€25 million), and UNFPA funding (€100 million).

  • 2. Commit to at least 30% representation from among women’s movements on all decision-making, assessment and advisory bodies (national, regional and global). 30% is a well-known “tipping point” for meaningful representation. Widely publicise a transparent process for the participation of women’s and feminist organisation.
  • 3. Staff the Spotlight Initiative with people who have gender equality and women’s rights expertise. Include these qualification requirements in all job postings (including any trust fund management). Include women’s rights advocates & VAW experts in independent panels to assess grant proposals.

Principle: Let demand drive strategy

  • 4. Undertake an open and competitive application process and allocate funds where women’s movements play a leading role. Where partnerships are preferred, prioritise strong partnerships among: women’s rights organisations and alliances; governments; other CSOs; etc.
  • 5. Proposal selection criteria – including the countries designated – must include a strong tradition of women’s movement organising around VAW. Proposals from governments that have restricted space for women’s rights organising or that are suspected of state-sponsored violence against women should be rejected. In these cases, women’s movements could receive direct funding from women’s funds and the UNTF.
  • 6. Recognize that forms of violence are interrelated and overlapping. Funding should be open to all forms of violence against women and girls and not artificially segmented.
  • 7. Invest in learning to build long-term evidence for addressing VAW. Build on existing data collection efforts and include women’s rights experts in all monitoring, data tracking and reporting.

Principle: Fund results, not bureaucracy

  • 8. To the extent possible, all funds should be allocated through the existing Interagency UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNTF). To reach more local, community-based women’s rights organisations, a portion could be allocated through women’s funds.
  • 9. Limit layers of bureaucracy and funds for UN processes. While strengthening UN coordination is valuable, efforts to end VAW should not be held hostage to the UN’s ability to collaborate. The maximum amount of funds should go to the people to whom it is intended, not to administration or coordination.
  • 10. Cap the percentage of support costs (i.e. monies not granted or directly funding Initiative staff). For a programme of this size, standard administrative and operational services costs (AOS) would constitute an outsized and inappropriate use of funds.


Raise your voice: Endorse our recommendations

Count Me In! (CMI!) is a consortium of women’s rights funds and organisations and consists of the following members: the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Creating Resources for Empowerment and Action (CREA), Just Associates (JASS), Mama Cash, the Red Umbrella Fund and Urgent Action Funds (Urgent Action Fund-AfricaUrgent Action Fund-Latin America, and Urgent Action Fund). CMI! aims to contribute to a safe and inclusive enabling environment for women’s rights organisations, movements and women human rights defenders (WHRDs). The Consortium is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and includes WO=MEN as a lobbying partner.
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