On Thursday November 25, on International Day for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the Government of Tajikistan, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) gathered to launch the ground-breaking Spotlight Initiative in Tajikistan, which aims to end sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, according to UN Resident Coordinator Office in Tajikistan.

The event reportedly also launched the national 16 Days of Activism Against gender-based violence campaign, which this year marks its global 30th anniversary.

A wide range of stakeholders - government officials, UN agencies, EU representatives, donor community, national and international organizations, civil society, media, youth groups and activists joined the event in solidarity to promote action on the issue of violence against women and girls.

Violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, is reportedly widespread around the world, and has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In Tajikistan, according to the Government’s Demographic Health Survey data of 2017, 31% of ever-married women have experienced some form of gender-based violence.

Tajikistan is one of the 25 countries in the world and two countries in Central Asia where the government, the UN and the EU are partnering to increase financing and expertise through the Spotlight Initiative to end sexual and gender-based violence.

This year the Spotlight Initiative and the 16 Days of Activism campaign will work to raise awareness, facilitate dialogue, promote increased commitments and highlight joint progress on reducing gender-based violence.

Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan noted: “The Spotlight Initiative is a joint flagship program of the EU and UN that aims to reverse the negative trends in violence against women and girls with serious investments and solutions. In the same time, it is a demonstration of the UN Development System reform in action on the Sustainable Development Goals, demonstrating that a significant, concerted, and comprehensive investment in gender equality and ending violence can make a transformative difference in the lives of women and girls and entire society.”

Ms. Petra Gašpárová, EU Deputy Ambassador to Tajikistan noted: “Spotlight Initiative promotes a society with no tolerance for gender-based violence. It’s a collective effort – in which the government, local governance bodies, international partners and the civil society together develop a capacity to better understand and effectively address violence against women and girls.  In Tajikistan, the Spotlight Initiative provides a strong toolbox to act at all these levels.  The global 16 Days of Activism campaign helps us bring this important issue in the spotlight, show solidarity with the survivors of domestic violence and create an environment in which it is safe to speak up and seek help, for the benefit of the thousands of girls and women who suffer in silence.”

The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the EU and the UN to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.  The overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative in Tajikistan which will be implemented by December 2022 is that women and girls enjoy their right to a life free of violence.  The funding of 5 million euros for the program in Tajikistan will contribute to the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence by responding to the needs of women and girls and addressing the underlying causes of violence against women and girls, as well as developing the capacity to prevent and effectively address domestic violence and other forms of abuse, using a multi-sectoral and intersectional approach.