Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous signed today the programme “ACT – Advocacy, Coalition Building and Transformative Feminist Action to End Violence against Women” in the margins of the 78th UN General Assembly. As announced by Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica at the Generation Equality Midpoint event on Sunday, ACT is a new collective commitment by the European Commission and UN Women to “Generation Equality”, the global initiative to accelerate investment and implementation on gender equality. The European Commission and UN Women are co-leaders of the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender Based Violence.
Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said: “Gender equality informs the daily work of the European Union. We must remain vigilant. Because today we need women more than ever. Today we support them more than ever. Women can count on us.”
Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “Civil Society has always been a key partner of the European Union. The new 22 million ACT programme with UN Women will allow us to increase and enhance global advocacy on ending violence against women and girls through direct investments in women’s rights organisations at the forefront of this battle.”
ACT to End Violence against Women
The Advocacy, Coalition Building and Transformative Feminist Action (ACT) programme has been developed by the European Union and UN Women to accelerate efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It aims to do this by strengthening i) the resilience and leadership of global and regional women’s rights movements and their coalition building and networking, and ii) advocacy, campaigning and policymaking through multi-stakeholder partnerships and coalitions.
ACT will be implemented initially in Africa and Latin America, two regions that have both a high prevalence of violence against women and girls, and strong women’s rights movements. The movements have already made great strides towards ending violence against women and girls but are now experiencing grave socio-economic and political challenges.
The ACT programme will also have a global component.
UN Women will lead the overall management and coordination of ACT, including providing funding and resources to regional and global level coalitions of women’s rights organisations. UN Women will also facilitate the participation of women’s rights movements in global and regional advocacy spaces and their access to decision-making fora. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, managed by UN Women, will provide grants to emerging women’s rights coalitions at regional or sub-regional level, to promote knowledge generation for policy and advocacy and ensure strong feedback loops with grassroots organisations.
The first step in implementing this catalytic new programme will be to engage with global and regional women’s rights organisations to collectively define the advocacy priorities and to co-create the transformative journey ahead.
The ACT programme builds on the EU–UN Spotlight Initiative’s results and lessons learned in 26 countries to empower women’s organisations at regional and global levels and contributes to its sustainability. As a key implementing partner of the Spotlight Initiative, UN Women is well placed to elevate local results to regional and global levels and maximise long-term impact on ending violence against women and girls. With ACT, the EU delivers on its political commitment in the Gender Action Plan to increase dialogue with and financial support to women’s organisations.
Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation worldwide. Despite unprecedented momentum and commitments to eliminate it during the 28 years since the Beijing Platform for Action, it remains all too common.
Global emergencies, crises, and conflict have further intensified drivers and risk factors. Digitalisation has exacerbated existing and given rise to new forms of violence. The rise in anti-rights movements, shrinking space for civil society and backlash against women’s rights are undermining efforts on gender equality and leading to a rise in attacks against women’s rights activists.
Despite these worrying trends, there is more evidence today than ever before that violence against women and girls is preventable. The evidence demonstrates that the presence of a strong and autonomous women’s rights movement is the single most critical factor in driving policy change, both in domestic and transnational contexts. Research also shows that large-scale reductions in violence against women and girls are possible through multi-sectoral coordinated actions of governments and civil society, and intensive advocacy efforts and media campaigns by women’s rights organisations.
- Publication date
- 18 September 2023
- Directorate-General for International Partnerships