Building a brighter future for women and girls free from violence

Three protesters show their protest signs to the camera.
Photo: Spotlight Initiative/Agostina Chiodi

Globally, one in three women experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Even before COVID-19, violence against women was one of the most widespread violations of human rights, with almost 18% of women and girls experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner over a 12-month period. Since the pandemic, violence against women has intensified.

During the 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence, with UN Women in the lead, UN entities and partners are calling upon governments to take action and: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect. In recognition of the 16 Days, we applaud the efforts of UN country teams across the globe as they aid in the fight against all forms of gender-based violence.

This collection of stories showcases some of the team’s work to protect the health, safety and security of women and girls worldwide. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Resilience and the impact of daily work amid COVID-19 

Photo: Imrana Kapetnovic for UNFPA

The United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been compiling a series of personal accounts highlighting the extraordinary work of individuals.

From ensuring that people follow basic hygiene guidelines to providing spaces for children to stay active, find out how these individuals have taken their work to the next level to ensure that the people—especially women and girls—they serve stay healthy and safe during COVID-19. These short excerpts provide a glimpse into the work of an activist combatting human trafficking, a librarian and workers at reception centres. 

Read the full story by clicking on this link

Someone to talk to: In Kenya, a hotline for women—and men—in crisis 

Photo: Verena Bongartz

A telephone rings in an office in Nairobi. The phone is connected to the number 1195, the national helpline for gender-based violence

The UN Women and UNFPA-supported hotline is staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who stay on the line with callers until help arrives, whether in the form of the police, an ambulance, a village elder, a child protection officer. Counselors arrange for health care, security, and legal aid. They also spend long hours on the phone, giving psychosocial support to callers in need.  

COVID-19 has aggravated the situation: “Women have been violated like never before,” says Fanis Lisiagali, who heads the 1195 helpline.  

Read the full story by clicking on this link

Tackling femicide in Argentina 

Photo: Spotlight Initiative/Agostina Chiodi

Natalia Bandiera was recently killed by her partner, who shot her four times at close range and then barricaded himself in their house. A week earlier Natalia had reported that she was a victim of gender-based violence and had asked for help. Reporting violence and abuse is key in order to ensure a timely and effective response. However, the system has significant weaknesses and, in Natalia’s and many other cases, it proved insufficient to protect her.   

UN Resident Coordinator in Argentina, Roberto Valent, highlights what efforts are underway in the South American country to reduce the rate of femicide or the murder of women.    

Read the full story by clicking on this link

Using technology to assist vulnerable Syrian refugees during COVID-19 lockdown 

Photo: UN Women Jordan

In many parts of the world, the increased isolation, added financial stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic and lockdowns have exacerbated existing problems such as gender-based violence. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, four UN Women field staff have been on the front lines of prevention, proactively undertaking sometimes more than 100 calls on a daily basis to provide information, counselling and psychosocial support to vulnerable Syrian refugee women in the camps, via phone and WhatsApp. 

“At first, I was skeptical about these messaging groups,” admits Ghosoun Mohammed Daeef, 27-year-old Syrian refugee enrolled at the UN Women Oasis Centre at the Azraq refugee camp. “Then, I realized the importance of such information, and I started to spread the messages with my own friends and neighbours within the camp,” she says. 

Read the full story by clicking on this link

Women leading peacebuilding in Papua New Guinea 

Photo: UN RCO/Rachel Donovan

In 2012, Janet Koriama led other women in establishing a movement to have women represented in local councils across Hela. Eight years later, the Hela Provincial Council of Women (HPCW) has succeeded with a woman sitting on each district council in Hela. The Organization provides mentoring for these leaders and is uniting women against tribal fighting in the Province. She shares that the women’s motto has become “Kill me before killing her”, a reference to the retaliation that will follow their son’s acts of violence towards other mothers. 

Read the full story by clicking on this link

UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Organization for Migration
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
World Food Programme
World Health Organization

Goals we are supporting through this initiative