Revolutionizing the response to

Gender-Based Violence

· Guest Blogger,Stories,Front Page

Women's rights, protection and equality at the center of the global agenda

The 68th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) is taking place this month. It is the world's largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, hosted by the United Nations in New York City. The CSW has been convening for eight decades, and this year the main theme is “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective”.

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The world is at a crossroads for gender equality, where poverty and violence continue to be major obstacles. Globally 10.3 per cent of women live in extreme poverty today, and they are poorer than men. Progress towards ending poverty needs to be 26 times faster to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. For eight decades, the CSW has been pushing to address gender inequality in all its forms and has also forged major global agreements to tackle issues facing millions of women and girls worldwide, including gender-based violence (GBV).

One of the main issues on the table is the lack of adequate investment in GBV. In a powerful 2022 report What Counts? The state of funding for the prevention of gender-based violence against women and girls”, by the UN Women partners the Equality Institute and the Accelerator for GBV Prevention, patterns of development aid spending were shown to include less than half of one percent for combatting GBV. The report, and many of the CSW activities, aim to change this and to serve as a call for global actors to redouble their efforts and continue to help drive investment in preventing GBV.

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Sierra Leone at CSW68

Sierra Leone is presenting a strong national strategy to address these challenges, with a special focus on adolescent girls. Dr. Isata Mahoi (centre), the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs (MOGCA), Government of Sierra Leone, spoke during the event ‘What Adolescent Girls Want: Priorities and Solutions’, that took place on 11 March 2024 at United Nations Headquarters in New York as part of CSW68. This event highlighted the importance of national planning and strategies in the protection and advancement of the rights of women and girls, who have often not been adequately represented in these programmes. However, actions must speak louder than words, and the MOGCA is taking some bold steps at home.

© UNICEF/UNI538863/Znidarcic

© UNICEF/UNI538863/Znidarcic

Sierra Leone Leads the Way with National Rollout of GBVIMS+

As part of a groundbreaking initiative to combat GBV, Sierra Leone emerges as a beacon of progress with the first-ever national rollout of the Gender-Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS+). Spearheaded by the MOGCA in collaboration with UNICEF and UNFPA, this endeavor marks a significant milestone in leveraging technology to enhance GBV response across the nation.

Since its launch in May 2023, the GBVIMS+ is being used by a group of partner organizations - including the Ministry of Social Welfare, Commit and Act Foundation, Rainbo Initiative, and MOGCA - underscoring a collective commitment to safeguarding vulnerable populations and addressing GBV comprehensively. Operating in Kailahun, Bo and Western Urban, the system has empowered the four agencies to streamline data collection.

On the 21st and 22nd of February 16 GBV case workers and supervisors received hands-on training on the incident recorder (IR) and basic GBV data analysis techniques, using the GBV data they have been collecting for eight (8) months. This training not only equipped frontline responders with essential skills but also addressed technical challenges encountered during system utilization, ensuring smooth operation and maximizing the system's potential for impact. The excitement of analysing trends and identifying areas to focus on, was palpable in the room.

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Sierra Leone is also the first country to have a dedicated GBVIMS+ System Administrator (SA) role, tasked with providing ongoing support and guidance to users nationwide. This role has been given to the GBVIMS+ Coordinator. By enhancing local ownership and sustainability, this innovative approach sets a precedent for future implementations globally.

Sierra Leone's pioneering efforts in adopting the GBVIMS+ on a national scale underscore the country's unwavering dedication to combatting GBV and fostering a culture of accountability and transparency, standing at the forefront, inspiring nations to follow suit and embrace progressive solutions in the fight against GBV. The next step is the scale up of the GBVIMS+ use across the nation, with seven designated trainers facilitating step-down trainings.

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#CSW68 #primeroprotects #gbvims