Project Factsheet
Tools for » Asia Spotlight Regional Progra
Project ID:00119463Description:Asia Spotlight Regional Progra
Spotlight Initiative Fund
Start Date *: 5 Nov 2020
End Date*: 31 Dec 2022
Country: United Nations Project Status: On Going
  Participating Organization:   Multiple

Programme Description

The Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme in Central Asia will focus on ending all forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Central Asia, supporting existing national legislation to be transformed so that implementation comprehensively and meaningfully prevents and protect against SGBV and harmful practices while providing survivors with the support and redress they require.

To end all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in Central Asia, existing national

legislation must be transformed so that implementation comprehensively and meaningfully prevents and protect against SGBV and harmful practices, while providing survivors with the support and redress they require. To change the root causes of SGBV and harmful practices in Central Asia, advocates, survivors and communities need tools for change, partnerships for change and platforms for voice and agency to be fostered.

 In brokering the creation and remit of the first Central Asia-wide mechanism (“the Alliance”) on SGBV, the UN will support governments, civil society, activists, survivors, youth, men and faith based leaders to come together across borders, to foster the voice, agency and expertise needed to transform the prevalence of and response to SGBV and harmful practices for all communities. Cross-border, Central Asian-specific sharing of best practices, joint development of regionally specific Models and Tools guiding state-led prevention of and response to SGBV and harmful practices, as well as regional efforts to close the data gap on SGBV, will be fostered. Such a region-wide network will build broad alliances across the 5 countries and Afghanistan to collectively and systematically build knowledge and action to strengthen legislation, and through innovative practices, effect national and local level changes of knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and practices which are at the root of all forms of SGBV.


Number of beneficiaries: 231,397 (direct) | 45,739,739 (indirect)

Recipient UN Organizations (RUNOs): UN Women, UNFPA and UNDP


Spotlight Regional Programme Focal Point at the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office: Viktor Damjanovic; Email:




The total investment from the EU for Phase I is USD 4,248,584 and is distributed according to the following;

 Legislative Reform (Pillar 1): Through a participatory, cross-border Review of National Legislation on SGBV and harmful practices, a broad-based network of experts will come together from government and CSOs, as well as activists and survivors of SGBV from Central Asia and Afghanistan (where appropriate). In close consultation with the three Spotlight Initiative Country Programmes, the work of this emerging Alliance will focus on developing key recommendations for transforming legislation and state-driven prevention and response to SGBV and harmful practices. Essential to the comprehensive revision of national SGBV-related legislation is greater knowledge by government, activists and civil society about the best practices in implementing the international conventions, commitments and standards in terms of ending SGBV. The process of conducting this extensive and participatory five country review will also launch the first collective networking in Central Asia on SGBV, which will be part of the mechanism described in Pillar 2.

Institutional Strengthening (Pillar 2): The priority for Pillar 2 is institutionalizing a broad-based Alliance for Central Asia, which is capable and positioned to drive legislative, policy and institutional reform in the area of SGBV specific to the regional context. Such an investment will also address the lack of a robust women’s movement in the region. Given the complexities of a cross border Alliance, the development of this Forum will firstly be in illustrating the power of collective action and leveraging the work of the Spotlight Initiative Country Programmes in the region. Specifically, through strengthened cross-border networking and experience sharing, collective capacity development and awareness raising on international norms and standards, and hands-on work with international and national experts in the development of SGBV Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) “models” grounded in international norms related to SGBV, a nascent Central Asia Alliance on ending SGBV and harmful practices will emerge.

In the three years of the Spotlight Initiative, the programme will concretely support adaptation, adoption and institutionalization of Regional Models on SOPs for key sectors at the national level, ensuring inter-ministerial coordinated case referral/case management response, capacity building, prevention and data collection. Relevant SOPs to be prioritized by the Alliance will be systematized across the region, for example on survivor-centred justice and multi-sectoral responses to SGBV. The agenda, focus and composition of the Alliance, as well as the timing of the meetings and nature of the tools, will be informed in part by the on-going work and needs of the Spotlight Initiative Country Programmes in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as work supported by the other two UNCTs in the region.

Tackling Social Norms, Attitudes and Behaviours (Pillar 3): The Spotlight Initiative, under the leadership of the emerging Alliance wherever possible, will significantly invest in building regional momentum around ongoing national level social mobilisation currently taking place in countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Pillar 3 will focus strongly on:

a)    developing regionally specific models on how to roll out social norm and behaviour change at the national and local level; and

b)    deepening regional alliances among non-traditional partners so as to foster greater national and local level partnerships in this regard.

 Emphasis is on bringing together men, youth, faith-based leaders, survivors, activists and government. The messaging, the nature of the alliances, the inclusion of groups who are often marginalised and important champions will all be coordinated with the Spotlight Initiative Country Programmes in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as the UNCTs in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Significant interventions include building on the Youth Peer (“Y-Peer”) movement and other relevant youth networks and mobilising men – including faith-based leaders – to be champions for equality and non-violence at the regional level. This in part could be achieved through the MenEngage platform and by raising up to the regional level a movement such as “#Don’t Be Silent,” which gives voice and leadership to survivors of SGBV. Given the importance that families play in society, specific modules/training packages on the supportive roles that husbands and fathers can play in the family will be reviewed and introduced at the regional level.

Closing the Data Gap (Pillar 5): Data gaps on many of the gender-related SDG Indicators are an overarching challenge in Central Asia. However, there have been some initial inroads in Kazakhstan on data collection and analysis on SGBV, and the Pillar would seek to highlight these positive experiences to the emerging Alliance, folding in representatives from all countries’ National Statistical Offices (NSOs). Grounded in international standards and best practices, regional Models for the collection of Prevalence, Administrative and Perception data as part of multi-sectoral coordination and response to SGBV will be developed by the Alliance and the NSOs.

The Spotlight Initiative will also support using “big data,” including crowd sourcing to understand occurrence and perceptions of SGBV. The Spotlight Initiative for Central Asia will invest in conducting analysis of men’s perceptions of SGBV, in order to get at the root causes of SGBV against women and girls as well as creating accessible and user-friendly graphics of how vulnerability to SGBV intersects with other forms of discrimination against women and girls; and the degree to which the Central Asian countries are achieving the SDG targets on SGBV. Linked to on-going work around monitoring the SDGs in Central Asia, the data and knowledge generated under the Spotlight Initiative will be accessible on digital platforms operated and utilized by the Central Asia Alliance, disseminated and utilised at the national levels.

Strengthening CSO Capacities and Regional Women’s Movement (Pillar 6): The Spotlight Initiative will invest in strengthening regional leadership, coordination, knowledge sharing and networking of women rights organizations to support CSOs’ collective and strategic engagement with governments and other actors within the broader Alliance for Central Asia on SGBV.

A regional CSO network, linked to the Central Asian Alliance, will be established, involving WROs, CSOs, activists and women’s rights defenders across the six countries. In order to strengthen the role of CSOs to strategically and collectively engage as accountability holders in their engagement with the Central Asia Alliance and other national and international platforms, CSOs will receive monitoring tools and technical assistance to develop strategies and strengthen their capacity to monitor and advocate for progress on the road map for aligning national laws and regulations with international standards and conventions. A virtual knowledge platform will also be established to facilitate remote knowledge exchange, sharing of best practices and joint development of advocacy strategies. This will also provide the space for CSOs to introduce and promote the scale up of innovations across countries. Through this support, it is expected that CSOs in Central Asia will gain the capacities to be leaders of the regional women’s movement, advocating and working for transformative change, while being more coherent and aligned with local priorities and realities in the region.



The Spotlight Initiative provides an unprecedented opportunity to deploy innovative approaches to achieve gender equality at scale in order to eliminate violence against women and girls working through a targeted and concerted investment, comprehensive approach and evidence-based programmatic theory of change. Thus, the regional programme will identify and adapt interventions that have evidence of success and best practices and will incorporate experimental approaches to test new pathways to achieve accelerated results. All innovative approaches in Central Asia will be closely observed to assess opportunities and risks, in line with the Do No Harm approach. The purpose of innovation is to accelerate impact; therefore, programmes demonstrating significant outcomes will be scaled up and will be shared as an innovative practice.

To advance the development of creative and innovative ideas and approaches, the Spotlight Initiative will 1) stimulate co-creation in which beneficiaries play an active and ongoing role in the conceptualization, development and implementation of innovative programmes and activities, including through civil society, 2) encourage innovations in partnerships, as well as programmes and activities and 3) promote innovative uses of non-technology methods and technology applications to reach and serve beneficiaries. 

To foster programmatic innovation, the Central Asia Regional Programme will:

  • Promote inclusive innovation, with a focus on supporting the poorest and most vulnerable.
  • Create effective networks and mechanisms for the participation of marginalized and vulnerable groups in the design, testing, learning and adoption of innovative solutions.
  • Learn quickly and ensure the impact of promising innovations before scale-up.
  • Facilitate collaboration and co-creation across public, private and civil society sectors.
  • Identify and share scalable solutions that demonstrate high potential to achieve and sustain significant impact and cost-effectiveness.
  • Introduce new methodologies (e.g. procedures, protocols) or technologies (e.g. devices) to address VAWG (prevention and response).
  • Systematize and evaluate experiences to analyze their potential and replicability in order to track and learn from innovation.

In addition to programmatic innovation, Operationalizing the United Nations Development System (UNDS) reform as a flagship programme and leveraging the comparative advantage of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes around EVAWG is an opportunity to explore how business operations in Central Asia can be streamlined through common business operation strategies such as common back office functions to improve operational efficiency. Increased efficiency in operational procedures will be tracked and measured as a metric of innovation for the Spotlight Initiative in Central Asia.

Other elements of operational innovation include to:

  • Develop new and or enhance existing modalities: for coordinated management and “Delivering as One” among UN agencies.
  • Maximize cost (Cost savings): The Central Asia Regional Programme will tap into various organizational process assets, engage in joint procurement processes where possible, coordinate common operations and ensure that synergies are made with other ongoing initiatives.
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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in United Nations or the lead agency for the programme. The MPTF Office Portfolio Manager (or Country Director with Delegation of Authority) for this programme:

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