During a regional consultation with women’s rights organizations held as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the United Nations Women emphasized that investing in and empowering women’s rights organizations is key to achieving gender equality.
Beatrice Eyong, the Country Representative of UN Women, expressed her concern that significant progress has not been made since the launch of the 16 Days of Activism campaign 20 years ago. She stated that addressing and eradicating gender inequality requires proactive and innovative solutions, rather than solely reacting to violence when it occurs. Eyong highlighted the importance of investing in and empowering women’s rights organizations, as they possess the knowledge, tools, and determination to reshape societies to be safer, more inclusive, and just.
While acknowledging the historic results in ending violence against women and girls during the first two decades of the campaign, Eyong emphasized that there is still much work to be done. She noted the lack of significant changes in the composition of peace tables and the prevailing impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of atrocities against women and girls. Eyong viewed the 16 Days of Activism as both a celebration of progress and a wake-up call to address gender equality setbacks, particularly in West and Central Africa.
Eyong also highlighted the coordinated and structured pushback against gender equality, which seeks to undermine women’s and girls’ access to the human rights system. Ignoring commitments to end violence against women would have long-lasting and intergenerational consequences for women and drastic implications for world peace, especially in the West Africa region.
Research has shown that the presence of a strong and autonomous feminist movement is crucial in driving change, shaping policies, and transforming social norms and power dynamics to end violence against women and girls. In recognition of the potential of women’s rights organizations, the European Union and UN Women have collaborated to develop the A.C.T. (Action Coalition on Transformative Feminist Action) initiative to end violence against women. This initiative focuses on strengthening global and regional advocacy, coalition building, and transformative feminist action.
Mrs. Eseme Stuart, the European Union focal person, explained that the ACT program is a joint commitment between the European Commission and UN Women. She highlighted that it mobilizes governments, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector in the fight against gender-based violence. The ACT program builds upon the experience of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, which is familiar to many participants.