The Spotlight Initiative regional programme
The Spotlight Initiative regional programme in Africa provides a regional response to addressing sexual gender-based violence, harmful practices and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The programme puts a special focus on empowering women’s movements.
Spotlight Initiative’s regional programme in Africa is fully aligned to national and regional priorities, including the goals and priority areas of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The programme supports the overall regional response to addressing sexual and gender-based violence, harmful practices and sexual and reproductive health and rights. It also responds to the African Union’s priority of ending child marriage and female genital mutilation across the continent.
The Spotlight Initiative regional programme for Africa includes funding for the existing UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation and the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage. The regional programme also supports the strengthening of women’s movements in Africa by providing dedicated funds to civil society organizations, including through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.
The EU funded Spotlight Initiative Africa Regional Programme has been a significant supporter of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage. Here are some of the key achievements of the initiative at the AU level:
SIARP through UNICEF office of the Representative to the AU and ECA and UNFPA have strengthened the capacity of the AU’s Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development Division particularly the social affairs department through the following activities:
- Recruitment and secondment of technical staff who support the areas of child protection and knowledge management
- Support to capacity building of key stakeholders including 97 media practitioners, 15 human rights commissioners and national level CSOs through both online and physical mechanisms
- Support to the 3rd African Girls Summit held in Niger in 2021
- High level side events at the 78th UNGA and the 67th CSW
- 15 Country Monitoring missions in support of the work of AU Special Rapporteur on Ending Child Marriage and other harmful practices
- The 2022 Commemoration of the International day of the African Child in collaboration with ACERWC in Lesotho
- Formulation of the AU Child Participation platform
- Drafting of guidance documents on ending child marriage including a knowledge strategy, an advocacy guide and a child safeguarding guide,
- The accountability Framework on ending harmful practices
- Strengthening partnerships: The initiative has built strategic partnerships with regional and national partners to strengthen their capacity to collect, analyze, and use data related to sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, and female genital mutilation. This data is used to inform the development of laws, policies, and programs aimed at combating these issues effectively.
- Advocacy: The initiative has supported young advocates in Niger who are working to end child marriage in their country. The advocates have been able to raise awareness about the negative impact of child marriage and have called for action to end the practice.
- Progress monitoring: The initiative has conducted joint assessments of adaptations to the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage in light of COVID-19. This exercise aims to contribute to the report that the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit before the end of its seventy-sixth session.
- Capacity building: The initiative has strengthened the capacity of 121 regional and national partners with skills to collect, analyze and use data related to sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, and female genital mutilation.
In conclusion, the Spotlight Initiative Africa Regional Programme has supported the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage through policy development, strengthening partnerships, advocacy, progress monitoring, and capacity building. These efforts have contributed to reducing the prevalence of child marriage in Africa and have helped to protect the rights of girls and women.