SHINE: UN Trust Fund x Spotlight Initiative commitment to elevating practice-based knowledge

Vesna Jaric and Erin Kenny

Could you tell us briefly about the UN Trust Fund and the Spotlight Initiative for our audience who are not familiar with the work of both organizations?

Vesna: The UN Trust Fund is a global inter-agency grant giving mechanism managed by UN Women, on behalf of the UN system. The fund was established by the UN General Assembly in 1996 with the mission to support initiatives to eliminate violence against women. In 25 years of grant-giving, we have funded 609 initiatives in 140 countries and territories around the world, and currently managing the portfolio of 157 demand driven projects in 3 outcome areas — on prevention, multi-sectoral services and laws, policies, and reforms.

Two years into the pandemic and we continue to talk about the impact of COVID-19. Why do you think it is still an important conversation to have? What actions have been taken by the UN Trust Fund and the Spotlight Initiative respectively in response to COVID-19 as donors?

Erin: The significant spike in violence against women and girls across the globe through COVID-19 starkly exposed the need for just this kind of catalytic and coordinated global effort. The Initiative rapidly accelerated and redirected more than USD 21 million across programmes to address violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19, and USD 36.7 million of Spotlight Initiative funds were allocated to civil society partners through the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.

SHINE is a space to co-create, collaborate and amplify knowledge and learning together to end violence against women and girls. Could you please tell us about how SHINE reflects the priorities of the UN Trust Fund and EU/UN Spotlight Initiative, and how it also embodies the partnership that the two entities share?

Vesna: The UN Trust Fund recognizes civil society as key knowledge holders and experts on contextually driven approaches to end violence against women. Our Strategic Plan includes a commitment to invest in the expertise and knowledge generated by CSOs and WROs, and to elevate practice-based knowledge and evidence to inform global policy, programming and agenda setting. An example would be through our intentional process of codifying and elevating the wealth of grantees’ practice-based knowledge under the umbrella of Learning from Practice on Prevention Series. While we’ve been adapting to the new operating environment generated by COVID-19, we’ve realized that we need a global, multilingual virtual convening space to facilitate these exchanges and accelerate achievement of the shared goal of ending violence against women. We created the SHINE online hub to amplify practitioners’ voices, listen, learn and facilitate interaction and exchange among practitioners

What are some quick takeaways from the event you would like to share for those who missed it?

Vesna: At the event, we could see how civil society are (1) centering and engaging women and girls in all their work, (2) how they are mobilizing communities to prevent violence, in innovative ways; (3) how their work is positioned across the spectrum of prevention and response to meet the urgent needs of beneficiaries (4) and how there is a clear need for flexible support to enable adaptive programming and organizational resilience, including through flexible, core and long-term funding.

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