Civil Society Organizations as motors for transformation: takeaways of the Spotlight CSOs Knowledge Sharing Forum

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from the Spotlight Initiative convened from 6 to 7 July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the “Spotlight CSOs Knowledge Sharing Forum” to share stories, lessons learned and promising practices in Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) in Africa.

Five of the CSOs who were selected to showcase their promising practices in areas of EVAWG, took a centre stage in the two-day Forum.

The Forum brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from East and Southern Africa Region, women’s rights groups, government representatives, regional economic communities (RECs), the European Union, the African Union Commission (AUC) and UN Agencies to share and learn how to influence and advance progress on gender equality and ending violence against women and girls, including on engaging in key African Union (AU) processes.

The five selected CSOs were nominated from the 8 Spotlight Initiative countries.

“Civil society organizations are motors for transformation at community-level and should guide support and actions to ensure impact on the ground. We will continue to support CSOs to more effectively influence and advance progress on gender equality and gender-based violence on the continent, notably by enlarging space for CSOs in key regional processes with the AU, which is at the heart of the agenda setting and policy making across Africa”, stated Mr. Thomas Huyghebaert, Head of Policy and Cooperation at the EU Delegation to the African Union, in his opening remarks.

Takeaways from the Forum

Five of the CSOs who were selected to showcase their promising practices under the Spotlight Initiative, have taken a central stage in the two days Forum.

Together with government representatives, RECs, AUC and UN Agencies, the takeaways retrieve form the Forum included:

1. Increase engagement and complementary action between Member States and regional CSOs;
2. Improve documentation and evidence generation;
3. Build the capacity of CSOs to better engage with AUC and RECs for domestication and
implementation of human rights instruments;
4. Harness existing media and platforms for disseminating promising and best practices;
5. Enhance local CSOs and other GBV actors coordination capacity in EVAWG in rural areas;
6. Increase regional level coordination and the creation of a continental networking platform.

“I would like to leave you with what I have termed the three (3) ‘Es’ to strengthen our work: Engagement – Let us continue to share information on the opportunities and entry points in each of our institutions; Evidence – Information and data is critical to providing a better understanding of the nature, magnitude and severity of violence against women and girls and to ensure there are no blind-spots regarding leaving no woman or girl behind;  Elevation – let us use the opportunity created by the Spotlight Initiative to innovate and elevate our efforts to bring lasting change from community to continental level”, highlighted Ms. Victoria Maloka, Head of the Coordination and Outreach Division of Women, Gender, Development and Youth Directorate (WGYD) at AUC.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Tikikel Tadele, Liaison Specialist at UN Women Liaison Office to the AU and UNECA, also emphasized the critical role of CSOs in advocating and working towards ending sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices in the continent.

The selected CSOs that will share their stories at the Forum were the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) from Nigeria, Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) from Liberia, Girl Child Rights (GCR) from Mozambique, Justice Centres (JCU) from Uganda and Musasa, from Zimbabwe.

The “Spotlight CSOs Knowledge Sharing Forum” was supported by European Union (EU) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AU) and UN Women.

The second Forum for Central and Western Africa will be held from 9-10 August 2022, in Dakar, Senegal


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