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Fund Dates

Start Date: 20 September 2017

End date: 31 December 2023


Vacancies and Calls for Proposals

Global: UN Women global roster of EVAWG experts. Closing date: ongoing


Main Documents

Terms of Reference

MOU UN - MPTFOSpotlight Initiative Fund - MOU with RUNOs (Dec 2021) 

Standard Administrative Arrangement (SAA)

MOU Addendum with RUNOs (Dec 2021) 

Contribution Agreement with European Union (PAGODA), including Addenda 1-9

ANNEX I Description of Action (updated as per Addendum 9) 


ANNEX Ib Latin America Investment Plan (updated as per Addendum 8)

ANNEX Ic Africa Investment Plan (updated as per Addendum 8)

ANNEX Id Pacific Investment Plan (updated as per Addendum 7)

ANNEX Ie Caribbean Investment Plan (updated as per Addendum 7)

ANNEX If Asia Investment Plan (updated as per Addendum 8)

ANNEX II General Conditions_Delegation Agreement

ANNEX IIa Provisions Co-Delegation Agreement

ANNEX III Budget (updated as per Addendum 9)

ANNEX IV Financial Identification

ANNEX V Request for payment for PAGODA

ANNEX VI Spotlight Communication and Visibility Plan

ANNEX VII Management Declaration


To see all uploaded documents at the fund and project level please go to the Document Center


Spotlight Communications and Visibility Guide



2021: Consolidated Annual Narrative and Financial Report/ Certified Financial Statement 

2020: Consolidated Annual Narrative and Financial Report/ Certified Financial Statement 

2019: Consolidated Annual Narrative and Financial Report/ Certified Financial Statement 

2018: Consolidated Annual Narrative and Financial Report/ Certified Financial Statement   

2017: Annual Report /Annual Financial Report / Certified Financial Statement 




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18 December 2019 New York - The Spotlight Initiative’s Operational Steering Committee has approved €122 million for new investments across 12 countries and programmes in the Caribbean, Central Asia and Pacific regions. The approved funds will kick-start programmes to end violence against women and girls in Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu, and a new regional programme in the Pacific. The new investments include dedicated funds to strengthen women’s movements and women’s civil society organizations across Central Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Using its integrated programming pillar approach across all three regions, programmes in the Caribbean will address family violence. In Central Asia, investments will respond to sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, including child marriage. Ending domestic and intimate partner violence will be the focus of investments in the Pacific region. It is estimated that the new programmes will directly impact more than 27 million people across the three regions. Credit: Spotlight Initiative/Koye Adeboye.
NEW YORK/BRUSSELS, 14 December 2018 The European Union and the United Nations approve €260 million in funding to eliminate violence against women and girls in 13 African and Latin American countries. The Spotlight Initiative’s Operational Steering Committee has approved national programmes to eliminate violence against women and girls in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe. European Union Director of the People and Peace Directorate Henriette Geiger (left) and Executive Director of the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office Jennifer Topping (right) with the signed agreements.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are embarking on a new multi-year programme, called the ‘Spotlight Initiative,’ which is focused on eliminating violence against women and girls (VAWG) and harmful practices (HP). In a focused set of countries, the Spotlight Initiative will deploy targeted, large-scale investments to improve the rights of women and girls, helping them to live lives free of violence. The Spotlight Initiative will support the elimination of specific forms of violence in each region and use them as entry points to address other forms of VAWG and HP. 


The Initiative is so named as it brings focused attention to this issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The name reminds us that violence often takes place in the dark, is denied or rendered invisible and that it cannot survive in the light. It also highlights the importance of targeted investments in women and girls to achieve sustainable development, making this renewed and unwavering commitment of the EU and the UN visible. 





The last two decades have yielded advances in recognizing the importance of the human rights and dignity of women and girls. The process has been driven by a series of international conferences organized by the United Nations, with the backing of governments and civil society from every global region. Key conferences include the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993), the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (Cairo, 1994) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995). Likewise, the Millennium Declaration (2000) and the Millennium Development Goals advanced many of international agreements. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers new momentum to further advance the agenda on human rights, gender equality, and women’s and girls’ empowerment, and ensure that no one is left behind. Furthermore, the Commission on the Status of Women, the pre-eminent United Nations body for advancing global policy reform in support of the rights of women and girls, has advanced specific normative measures over the years to end discrimination and violence against women and girls (VAWG): in the workplace, in public and political life, in intimate relationships, and in the family. This includes addressing marginalization and intersecting forms of discrimination.

Worryingly, in recent years, conservatism and hostility towards the women’s rights agenda has grown in many parts of the world and, resulting in a backlash and/or regression on hard-won gains. This escalation has predominantly been in targeting of women’s rights in particular from non-state actors. Women’s civil society organisations and human rights defenders are facing an unprecedented crackdown that is inadvertently backed by new legislation on foreign funding; restrictions on registration or association; anti-protest laws; gag laws; laws that criminalize online dissent and expression, or those that or block access to websites and social media.

The commitment to eliminate VAWG/harmful practices is backed by the call from a number of regional political and economic bodies, including the European Union (EU), which strongly condemns all forms of VAWG/harmful practices, and has identified its elimination as a priority in supporting the full realization of women’s human rights alongside the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In September 2015, the European Commission published the Joint Staff Working Document on “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020.” This document aims at supporting partner countries, especially developing ones, in achieving tangible results for reaching gender equality, which is at the core of European values. This new EU Gender Action Plan (2016-2020) identifies the elimination of violence against women, including sexual violence, trafficking and harmful practices among other forms of violence, as its first pillar. More recently, the European Commission announced that 2017 would be a “year of focused actions” dedicated to ending VAWG.

According to this framework, the European Union identified VAWG as a key priority for international cooperation and development policy. In May 2017, the European Union announced its plan to launch a global initiative on VAWG, accompanied by a financial envelope in the order of EUR 500 million.


Innovation of the Spotlight Initiative

The Spotlight Initiative is a way for the United Nations and European Union to support a comprehensive approach to preventing and respond into VAWG in target countries and do so in innovative and new ways. The initiative builds on knowledge and lessons learned from past programmes.

 Scale, focus, and comprehensive theory of change

While a significant amount of work has been undertaken by the EU and United Nations in supporting governments to fulfill their obligations to end VAWG/harmful practices, the Spotlight Initiative, with dedicated large-scale resources, comprehensive design and focus, and evidence-based programmatic theory of change, will allow for intensified and focused action in strengthening core areas of action, which include: legislation/policies, institutions, prevention, delivery of, and access to, services, and data collection, disaggregation and sharing.

 Using the Sustainable Development Goals

In addition to enabling a holistic approach to addressing VAWG/harmful practices at the country level, the initiative will build on the momentum of SDG efforts related to the implementation of Goal 5 and other SDGs. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs have targets designed to eliminate VAWG/harmful practices (5.2 and 5.3) as well as one (5.6) that is focused on women’s autonomy in matters of sexual and reproductive rights, which provides an important opportunity and entry point to advocate for action at the country level. The indivisibility of the 2030 Agenda allows for addressing VAWG/harmful practices across the SDGs, with multiple entry points to leverage interventions.

In the context of working in new ways, the Spotlight Initiative also presents an opportunity for it to be a demonstration fund – intended to provide an example of a United Nations evidence base and demonstrate the impact that a whole scale investment in gender equality and comprehensive approach can make on the lives of women and girls and on the achievement of all SDGs. This evidence base should then be leveraged to catalyze greater investments in all countries. Lastly, the fund is aimed at supporting and moving forward, implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and is an SDG model fund, intended also to encourage greater integration and joined up delivery on the SDGs in line with UN reforms.

Political buy in

The initiative will build, from the outset, strong political commitment from the highest levels of government in target countries and beyond, guaranteeing sustainability through the dedication of national attention, action, and resources. Countries will be encouraged to match and contribute domestic resources and response, Heads of State and senior leaders will be invited to champion the issue, bringing greater visibility to the nature of violence in their country and the Initiative.

Civil society engagement and participation

The success of the Spotlight Initiative relies on strong coordination between stakeholders and actors at all levels, through active engagement, dialogue and knowledge sharing. The role of civil society actors and, in particular, women’s rights organizations (including those promoting sexual and reproductive rights), and other gender equality advocates will be essential to ensure those facing multiple forms of discrimination are not left behind. Studies repeatedly affirm that effective mechanisms for ensuring sustainable change, including lasting policy development for gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment, is to support women’s organizations and build strong social movements to end VAWG/harmful practices.

Civil society is another repository of information that acts as a mirror to reflect the priorities, dynamics, challenges, and levers of changes in a country. It can therefore play a crucial role in leading the design of interventions, and facilitating collaboration and negotiations with other stakeholders. The multi-country and multi-regional nature of the initiative, through knowledge and good practice exchange with peers from other contexts, will benefit civil societies and also contribute to the consolidation of best practices and amplification of social justice movements.  Furthermore, through joint-United Nations, national government and civil society efforts (enabled through a combination of partnerships and financing instruments) the Spotlight Initiative will strengthen implementation efforts at country level, and in a coordinated and a cost-effective manner, to bring about transformative change.

United Nations system working together and a multi-stakeholder approach

The initiative will capitalize on the strength of the United Nations system as it works together to optimally use organizational capacities and avoid duplications. The United Nations will jointly support comprehensive, national efforts to address gender inequality, VAWG/harmful practices and achieve the full realization of women’s rights and opportunities at the country level. The United Nations will bring the combined expertise of a wide range of agencies, funds and programmes, as well as civil society to the initiative under the overall strategic coordination of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG). UN Women, UNDP and UNFPA, as core agencies, along with civil society, will provide technical support in the design and implementation of activities, under the leadership and supervision of the EOSG. Other United Nations organizations, in collaboration with civil society and other stakeholders, will participate in the implementation of country programmes based on their expertise and mandate. For example, UNICEF and UNESCO may assist in the implementation of interventions on school-related gender-based violence, and prevention interventions related to educational curricula and programmes. IOM might do the same for migration and trafficking, while UNODC focuses on interventions related to access to justice, rule of law and trafficking. ILO may provide technical support on initiatives related to violence in the workforce, and abuse and exploitation of migrant workers, and WHO on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), health services for survivors, data collection and analysis, and the development of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methodologies. At the national level, each United Nations organization role will be determined by regional and national context, existing partnerships, as well as country/regional office capacity.

The United Nations system will also leverage existing partnerships with governments, civil society (including women’s organizations and organizations engaging men and boys, progressive faith-based organizations, youth organizations, trade unions, etc.), the media, research and academic institutions, and international organizations to inform interventions with the latest evidence and relevant research in the field of prevention of and response to VAWG/harmful practices. Other relevant actors may be involved beyond those listed in this note, further assessments of relevant stakeholders at global and regional levels will be needed.


Programmatic Framework

Overall goal: All women and girls live free from violence and harmful practices

Impact statement: All women and girls, particularly the most vulnerable, live free from all forms of violence and harmful practices because of prevention strategies and strengthened multi-sectoral and partnership-based responses.

Five outcomes: Implemented simultaneously and in a comprehensive manner, five main outcomes will contribute to the overall goal of ending all forms of VAWG/harmful practices, especially the most marginalized women and girls. Outcomes are based on evidence, research, and demonstrated practice and programmes that demonstrate the need for coordinated interventions that strategically complement, galvanize and take to scale existing investments in gender equality and VAWG/harmful practice actions.

The type or ideal combination of intervention packages will be determined by initial country-level assessments and situational analysis on the ground. The interplay between the normative/policy-oriented and operational outcomes will depend on the existing and current work to date in each country by national and local governments, civil society, the United Nations, European Union, and other stakeholders.

To achieve long-term change and sustainability, complementary links between outcomes will be leveraged. For example, as disaggregated and transparent data informs investment, on-going legislation, and policy reform, services can be established and/or strengthened to cater to the health, safety and security needs of survivors. These above two steps can take place alongside the design and implementation of robust and evidence-based prevention programmes that address adverse social norms, attitudes and beliefs. Governance structures, centralized and decentralized, have a role to play in determining how programmes are developed and where they are implemented.

Country context and civil society capacity will be taken into account in all cases, and will define intermediary programme targets and phased implementation opportunities.


Recent Documents

This tab shows only recent documents relevant at the Fund level. To see more documents at both the fund and project level go to the Document Center.

Key Figures
Funding Status
Participating Organizations are required to submit final year-end expenditures by April 30 in the following year; Interim expenditure figures are submitted on a voluntary basis and therefore current year figures are not final until the year-end expenditures have been submitted.
Total as of
Values in US$
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Funds with Administrative Agent
Contributions from Donors 483,607,346  
Interest and Investment Income (from Fund) 1,964,560  
Interest (from Participating Organizations) 0  
Total source of funds   485,571,906
Transferred to Participating Organizations 426,004,202  
Refunds from Participating Organizations -2,477,109  
Administrative Agent Fee 735  
Direct Cost 18,280,200  
Bank Charges 3,747  
Other 5,186,067  
Total use of funds   446,997,843
Balance with Administrative Agent   38,574,063
As a percentage of deposits   8.0%
Funds with Participating Organizations
Transfers to Participation Organizations 444,284,403  
Total resources   444,284,403
Participating Organizations' Expenditure 286,572,621  
Refunds from Participating Organizations -2,477,109  
Total expenses     289,049,730
Balance with Participating Organizations   155,234,673
As a percentage of transfers   34.9%
Total Balance of Funds   193,808,736
As a percentage of deposits   40.1%
Delivery Analysis
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For Programme and Managment Issues

Spotlight Secretariat Lead: Ms. Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Adviser, Executive Office of the Secretary General

For Fund Administrative Agent Issues

Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTF Office), Bureau of Management, United Nations Development Programme; Fax: +1 212 906 6990 



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