The Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership between the United Nations and the European Union. It is the world’s largest targeted effort, with hundreds of millions of dollars in investment. Its main objective is to end all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), including domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, femicide, trafficking in human beings, and sexual and economic (labor) exploitation. 

Country Programme Outlines

The UNFPA West and Central Africa Regional Office requested that we come on board and contribute to developing the Country Programme Outlines (CPOs) of Liberia and Nigeria and the Africa Regional Program Outline. We provided on-site technical support to the regional country office in Dakar, the country office in Monrovia, and the country office in Abuja. Our work included highlighting existing gaps in the first draft of the CPOs and demonstrating connections between Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), sexual and gender-based violence, and harmful practices. We also supported the country office’s programme development and ensured that the technical inputs were fully integrated into the programme document.

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Inclusive Process

One of our main objectives was to ensure that the process was consistently inclusive and collaborative. We also wanted to verify that the project resonated with the involved UN agencies, including UNICEF and UN Women, and other stakeholders like the African Union, government actors, civil society actors, and embassies. To accomplish these objectives, Dr. Annemarie Middelburg met with many of these entities and players to ensure that their ideas were included in the CPOs. Additionally, we presented possible connections and collaboration opportunities between Spotlight and other initiatives in the region.

Our Conclusions

The Spotlight Initiative truly grasps the imminent need to eradicate VAWG as a precondition to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We feel honored to have contributed our knowledge and expertise to such a unique and powerful programme. We also felt touched and inspired to see such a wide range of stakeholders involved, which is crucial to bringing about systemic change.