Civil Society Organizations as Drivers of Transformation: Takeaways from the CSO Spotlight Knowledge Sharing Forum

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Civil Society Organizations as Drivers of Transformation: Takeaways from the CSO Spotlight Knowledge Sharing ForumCivil Society Organizations (CSOs) from the Spotlight Initiative gathered July 6-7 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the “Spotlight CSO Knowledge Sharing Forum” to share stories, lessons lessons learned and promising practices to end violence against women and girls (EVAWG) in Africa. Five of the CSOs selected to present their promising practices in the areas of EVAWG took center stage during the two-day Forum.

The Forum brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from the Eastern and Southern Africa region, women’s rights groups, government representatives, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the European Union, the African Union Commission (AUC) and United Nations agencies to share and learn how to influence and advance progress on gender equality and ending violence against women and girls, including by engaging in key African Union (AU) processes. The five selected CSOs were nominated in the 8 Spotlight Initiative countries.

“Civil society organizations are drivers of transformation at the 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, including expanding the space for CSOs in key regional processes with the AU, which is central to agenda and policy setting. across Africa,” said 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 that were selected to showcase their promising practices under the Spotlight Initiative took center stage over the two-day Forum. With government representatives, RECs, AUC and UN agencies, takeaways from the Forum included:

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

“I would like to leave you with what I have called the three (3) ‘E’s to strengthen our work: Commitment – Let’s continue to share information about opportunities and entry points in each of our institutions; Evidence – Information and data is essential to provide a better understanding of the nature, scale and severity of violence against women and girls and to ensure that there are no blind spots regarding the leaving no woman or girl behind; Uplift – let us seize the opportunity created by the Spotlight Initiative to innovate and elevate our efforts to bring about lasting change from the community level to the continental level,” emphasized Ms. Victoria Maloka, Chief of the Coordination and Outreach Division of the Women, Gender, Development and Youth Directorate (WGYD) at the AUC.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Tikikel Tadele, Liaison Specialist at the UN Women Liaison Office to the AU and ECA, also highlighted the critical role of CSOs in advocating and fighting to end the sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices on the continent.

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

The “CSO Spotlight Knowledge Sharing Forum” was supported by the European Union (EU) in partnership with the African Union (AU) Commission and UN Women. The second Central and West Africa Forum will be held on August 9-10, 2022, in Dakar, Senegal.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.

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