Uniting for progress: Launch of the Central Asian Alliance to End Gender-Based Violence
On 27 June, the Central Asian Alliance to End Gender-Based Violence was officially launched in Almaty as part of the Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme for Central Asia and Afghanistan. Generously supported by the European Union, this groundbreaking initiative aims to combat gender-based violence (GBV), advance Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, and strengthen civil society.
The Alliance’s goal is to create a platform for knowledge-sharing and expertise to prevent and address gender-based violence in the region, benefiting an estimated 35 million women and girls in five Central Asian countries.
“People in Central Asia are proud of their traditions, and violence against women was never part of it,” said EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan Kestutis Jankauskas at the launch. “Building on that, the European Union, Central Asian countries and UN partners are working together to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. We united forces under the Spotlight Initiative, and are launching the Central Asian Alliance to End Gender-Based Violence which will help us all to move towards more modern and fair societies.”
At the launch event, participants shared insights into their work and discussed the challenges they face in addressing violence against women and girls, which one in three women and girls globally have experienced violence at some point in their lives.
The establishment of the Alliance is a key achievement of the Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme. Since its launch in 2020, the programme has raised awareness on gender equality and healthy masculinity among 7 million people in Central Asia, facilitated the formation of a regional network of more than 500 civil society actors, an informal youth network as well as a community of practice for police. The programme has also conducted a number of national and regional comprehensive assessments and studies on sexual and gender-based violence legal frameworks and their alignment with international standards, implementation of gender-responsive budgeting and financing of crises centres, the coordination of health, social and police sectors in the Multi-Sectoral Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and launched two studies on intersectionality and gender-based violence in Central Asia, assessing men’s life experiences, perceptions and perpetration of GBV in Kazakhstan. More information could be found here.
“Today marks an important milestone in our collective efforts with the EU towards ending violence against women and girls in Central Asia,” emphasized UN Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan, Michaela Friberg-Storey. “The Alliance will be linked with other regional and national initiatives and coalitions, which already exist. We encourage all partners in the region to join this significant effort to end gender-based violence. By working together, we can harness our collective strength to challenge harmful norms, enhance protection mechanisms, and ensure access to justice and support services for survivors.”
The launch of the Central Asian Alliance exemplifies the EU and UN’s shared dedication to achieving the transformative vision outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is expected to encourage other regions to emulate its model and contribute to the global movement to end GBV.
“We are very happy to cooperate with our colleagues from the region and hope that together we will overcome gender-based violence,” noted Ainakan Namazova, Chair of the Issyk-Kul Women’s Community in Kyrgyzstan.
Shirin Rashidova, Head of the Center for Support and Development of Initiatives (“NIHOL”) in Uzbekistan, also agreed that the launch of the Alliance is an important step to counteracting GBV: “This is one of the positive examples of great help not only for our organization but for our whole country to help eradicate violence, to help our women.”
Maksutbek Aitmaganbet, Chair of the “Fathers Union” of Kazakhstan, added: “We believe that men should be actively involved in the fight against violence, and that they should protect women. We need to pay great attention to this, not when men have already grown up and become fathers but starting from childhood. Our sons must know and understand from childhood that they are defenders.”
Firdavs Latifov, a representative of the Y-PEER Youth Network from Tajikistan, also emphasized the importance of engaging men in eliminating gender-based violence: “Since the young generation is one of the main stakeholders of this Alliance, we can use the peer-to-peer methodology to raise awareness about this problem and thus influence young people to combat violence.”
The Spotlight Initiative Regional Programme for Central Asia and Afghanistan is part of a global initiative funded by the European Union in over 25 countries and six regions addressing different forms of violence against women and girls as well as harmful practices. 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.
Learn more about the Alliance here.