Press Release

UNIFEM Announces Grants for 28 Initiatives in 20 Countries to End Violence against Women

Contributions to United Nations Trust Fund Increase Fourfold since 2004

For immediate release
Date: 22 November 2006

Media Inquiries:
Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist, UN Women Headquarters, +1 646 781-4522,

United Nations, New York — The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women will grant US$3.5 million to initiatives in developing countries that are addressing gender-based violence. This is the highest amount ever to be disbursed by the UNIFEM-managed Trust Fund — up from US$1.8 million in 2005 and close to four times more than in 2004.

As in the previous year, grants mainly go to groups that work on ensuring that policies and laws to address violence against women are implemented. Overall, 28 initiatives in 20 countries, including one regional project, will receive grants amounting to US$2.8 million to that end. A second round of grants amounting to US$0.7 million for groups focusing on the link between gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS will be announced in early 2007.

"Today, 89 states have adopted legislative provisions that address domestic violence, including 60 states with specific domestic violence laws," said UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer. "What we often observe, however, is a lack of political will, resources and capacity to implement these laws. This is our main challenge and the Trust Fund offers a unique opportunity to support initiatives around the world in pursuing strategies that have proved to work," she added.

Most of the 2006 Trust Fund grantees will support the implementation of a new law or policy through a combination of training for government institutions, the judiciary and law enforcement; advocacy for increased budgetary resources; popular awareness raising; and capacity building for civil society groups to demand accountability. Initiatives to that end will be carried out in Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, Grenada, India, Liberia, Mongolia, Niger, Paraguay, Rwanda, Somalia, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. In Cameroon, a Trust Fund grant will support advocacy for the adoption of the Family Code that includes provisions to protect women from gender-based violence.

Initiatives in Bulgaria, India, Liberia and Ukraine will work specifically with local or community-based justice delivery systems to build capacity to deliver on new laws and policies. Where relevant, Trust Fund grantees will also engage with problems of potential conflict or disconnect between national laws and the rules of community justice systems, for example, by reviewing court proceedings to identify obstacles in applying existing legal provisions.

A third group of grantees will work to ensure that especially disadvantaged or marginalized groups of women equally benefit from the protections offered by new laws. In Bulgaria, the focus will be on women and girls with disabilities; in Bolivia and Ecuador as well as Guatemala, work will be carried out in indigenous Kichwa and Mayan communities; in Nicaragua, an initiative will use the Trust Fund grant to focus on communities along the Atlantic Coast where response rates to abuse cases are particularly poor.

The Trust Fund is a unique multi-lateral mechanism established by the UN General Assembly in 1996 and administered by UNIFEM. Grants are decided collectively by representatives of UN agencies and international NGOs and experts. Since its establishment, the Trust Fund has granted close to US$13 million to 226 initiatives in over 100 countries.

Contributions come from a diverse group of governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and individuals. In 2006, donors include: the Governments of Austria, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, USA; UNIFEM National Committees in Australia, Singapore, USA, the Berkshire Chapter of the US National Committee; World Day of Prayer USA, Zonta International; Johnson & Johnson, Macy's, TAG Heuer; and many individuals who contributed on the occasion of UNIFEM's 30th anniversary commemoration.

See more information on the Trust Fund and a complete list of grantees.

Stories from the Field – How Trust Fund Grantees are Fighting Violence

CAMEROON: Human Rights Groups Advocate Legislation to End Violence
Cameroon had made strong progress in drafting its long-overdue Family Code, meant to protect women's rights, including the right to live free from violence. Cameroonian women face not only domestic violence and sexual abuse, but also harmful traditional practices. These include female genital mutilation and widowhood rites that cause physical and psychological suffering. As sometimes happens, however, changes in government personnel meant the proposed legislation suddenly stalled. Three NGOs — the Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy (CHRAPA), Help Out and Human Rights Focus — will use a grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women to advocate for getting it back on track. In the process, they hope to stir greater public awareness of the problem of violence against women, and what needs to be done to stop it.

INDIA: Better Legal Options Equal More Justice for Women
In Indian households, often organized around extended families, violence can erupt in many forms. It occurs between siblings, sexual partners, in-laws, children and parents, young and old. While violence against women within a marriage has been a crime, the narrow scope of existing laws and lack of legal measures for victims led women's groups to campaign for a new and broader civil statute. In 2005, they successfully pushed through the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. The Lawyers Collective, one of the groups that led the campaign, will now use a grant by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women to help the Indian legal system adjust the ways it handles domestic abuse cases.

BULGARIA: Activists Bring a Law Alive
After Bulgaria passed its Law on Protection against Domestic Violence in 2005, the courts in Sofia, the capital, were soon busy processing hundreds of cases. As is true in many countries, violence against women had long been a hidden issue. But in recent years women's groups, energized by the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, have publicly campaigned for better legal protection of women's human rights. Before spearheading the drive for the domestic violence law, they successfully advocated for the passage of legislation against trafficking in human beings. The Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (BGRF) is one of the leading forces for change. An independent NGO that promotes gender equality and human rights through research and advocacy, it will now be using a grant by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women to help make the domestic violence law a standard legal practice.

BOLIVIA/ECUADOR: Remote Indigenous Communities Work towards Local Protection
Deep in the Amazonian jungle along the border between Bolivia and Ecuador live a variety of indigenous communities. Poverty rates are high; social services for health and education are scarce. There is little knowledge about national laws. For a woman who does know her rights and is strong enough to flout conventions that accept domestic violence as a fact of life, reporting a case of abuse to state authorities would still require an arduous trip across rivers and through untamed forest. That is why a project in both countries, funded by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, is taking support for anti-violence measures where it matters most: to indigenous communities themselves. The project is operated by the international NGO Family Care International in cooperation with the Federation of Organizations from the Kichwa de Sucumbios Nations in Ecuador (FONAKISE) and the Indigenous Centre for the People Originating in the Amazon of Pando (CIPOAP).

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