Press Release

EU-UN flagship Spotlight Initiative launched in Central Asia and Afghanistan

08 December 2020

  • NUR-SULTAN – In the framework of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, the Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme for Central Asia and Afghanistan was officially launched today with participation of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and high-level government representatives from Central Asian countries and Afghanistan. Funded with an initial approved budget of USD 4.3 million, this regional programme is part of a global initiative funded by the European Union in over 25 countries and regions addressing different forms of violence against women as well as harmful practices.

In Central Asia and Afghanistan the Programme is focused on strengthening efforts to end sexual and gender based-violence against women and girls and by symbolically shining a spotlight on barriers that hinder them from development.

Addressing the audience, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed noted that “since the outbreak of COVID-19 gender-based and domestic violence has increased globally, and the countries in Central Asia and Afghanistan are no exception”.

The ultimate goal of the Spotlight Programme is to create an environment where there is zero tolerance for sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, which the national stakeholders and an estimated 35 million women and girls in the five Central Asian countries and Afghanistan will contribute to and benefit from.

EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan Mr. Sven-Olov Carlsson noted: “I am convinced that the Spotlight Initiative will benefit from the longstanding leadership and active support of governments, institutions and civil society organisations in this region. I am glad to acknowledge that governments and institutions have committed themselves to promoting gender equality. We are therefore looking forward to the robust implementation of relevant laws and policies”.

Working in partnership with key institutions and diverse partners, the Spotlight Initiative will focus on developing good practices as well as forging alliances in the region around areas such as legislative reform, institutional strengthening, tackling social norms and attitudes, strengthening civil society and women’s movements. The measures will also include digital literacy training and engaging key stakeholders to contribute to respecting and protecting women’s and girls’ rights. The Initiative is coordinated by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Kazakhstan and is implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women.

In her address to partners and invited guests, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Designate for Kazakhstan, Michaela Friberg-Storey emphasized: “The Spotlight Initiative will provide an important platform for the United Nations to support the countries as they tackle the pandemic of violence, one that threatens individual health and integrity, families, communities, and the global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in this region”.

During the event participants spoke about their work and the challenges when addressing violence against women and girls. There was a collective agreement that all stakeholders, from the UN, EU, government, chiefs, women, men, girls and boys, need to be involved, and behaviours and mindsets need to be changed to combat any form of violence.

The Spotlight Initiative provides an opportunity for a multi-sectoral, coordinated and holistic approach in addressing violence against women and girls working through multiple stakeholders including governments, service providers, civil society and other key stakeholders. Being launched during a landmark year – celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the Spotlight initiative provides an opportunity to highlight the women’s right to a life free from violence.

Full video from the launch event:


The Spotlight Initiative (SI) is a global partnership between the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG), including harmful practices. Launched globally in 2016, with a global funding commitment of EUR 500 million from the European Union, the Spotlight Initiative represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In Central Asia and Afghanistan the Spotlight Initiative will focus on employing innovative approaches to understand, prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices. The Initiative joins existing efforts and complements the work of regional institutions and diverse partners. Find out more on

For more details please contact:

  • Press Officer of the UN in Kazakhstan Ms. Elnara Bainazarova:

 tel: +7 701 9400086, e-mail:,

  • Press Assistant of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan Ms. Yerkezhan Amriyeva:

tel: +7 775 6730823, e-mail:

Elnara Bainazarova

Press Officer of the UN in Kazakhstan

UN entities involved in this initiative

UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative