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Press release

Date: 12 May 2022

Spotlight Initiative Africa Regional Programme


Civil Society Regional Reference Group convenes the first in-person meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, to agree on a joint roadmap for 2022 towards ending all forms of violence against women and girls in Africa.       


In a historic first, the Africa Civil Society Regional Reference Group (CSRRG) gathered for their first in-person meeting from the 20-22 April in Nairobi, Kenya, to jointly agree on key priority areas towards ending all forms of violence against women and girls. The primary purpose of the meeting was to finalize the development and validation of the CSRRG work plan, foster and strengthen strong working relationships and camaraderie amongst the CSRRG members, and agree on critical next steps going forward.

The Spotlight Initiative is an ambitious, global multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. At the heart of the Spotlight Initiative are women’s rights groups and civil society organizations, given their central role in the fight to end violence against women and girls globally, including in Africa. Within this context, the Spotlight Initiative’s Africa Regional Program (SIARP) constituted the Civil Society Regional Reference Group in January 2022.


The 14-member CSRRG Pan-African body of experts serves in their individual capacity to harness civil society expertise and inform the implementation of the SIARP, both as advisors to the SIARP and as advocates and partners for the realization of its objectives – with the administrative and technical support provided by Partners for Sexual Health (PSH), a civil society organization based in South Africa who organized and hosted the event.


Also in attendance at the meeting were representatives from the United Nations Women’s office in Ethiopia, notably Ms. Awa Ndiaye Seck, UN Women Special Representative to the AU and UNECA and Head of the Liaison Office and Dr. Maxime Houinato, Regional Director, Regional Office for East and Southern Africa, who is based in Nairobi Kenya. 


Ms. Awa, in her opening remarks, welcomed everyone to the Africa CSRRG first in-person meeting and again congratulated all the CSRRG members on their nomination. She eloquently emphasized that


“civil society advocates, organizations and networks lie at the very center of the Spotlight Initiative, not just for the Africa regional program, but at all levels of implementation of the Spotlight Initiative at both country and regional levels.”


She further pointed out that the development of a work plan for the group is a critical milestone that plays a crucial role in providing a clear roadmap on how the CSRRG could strategically and technically engage in the program to discharge its entrusted mandate: “I applaud you for the progress made so far in preparing the draft, and we hope that in the coming three days, we all put our heads together to finalize the work plan with clear activities, milestones and timelines and move to the actual implementation of the work plan.”


During the 3-day meeting, the CSSRG energetically brainstormed and identified four key objectives that inform their work plan for the period March to December 2022. The work plan outlines what the group has collectively prioritized to be implemented over the next couple of months. These are:  


  • To operate with a clear and shared understanding of the CSRRG role, to advise and participate in decision-making on the implemen-tation of the SIARP.

  • To increase awareness on EVAWG/HP and SRH&RR through enhanced visibility of the SIARP.


  • To improve programming and policy influencing and implementation in Africa through engaging regional women’s groups on EVAWG/ HP and SRH&RR.


  • To influence regional policymakers, development partners, UN agencies, and the private sector for increased investment in EVAWG/HP and SRH&RR.

To achieve the above objectives, the group further identified four main work areas:


    (a)  Institutional Strengthening of the CSRRG

    (b)  Communications and Branding

    (c)   Advocacy

    (d)  Increasing investment


Dr. Maxine, in his concluding remarks, spoke at length about civil society’s critical role in ending violence against women and girls and the need to “package” the information/messaging in the correct format and use the right “language” always keeping the target audience in mind and maintaining the youthful interaction because that’s where innovation and new ideas stem from. He shared how impressed he is with the work plan produced by the CSRRG in such a short period and assured members that UNW is behind the group all the way. He mentioned that UNW is primarily responsible for pillar 6 in the Spotlight Initiative. That UNW drafted “feminism” into its strategic plan for the first time. To that end, the relationship between UNW and civil society is now official.


On the last day of the three-day proceedings, the CSRRG elected Nneoma Albert-Benson as chairperson and Dr. Mildred Mushunje as deputy chairperson of the CSRRG.  


For more information on the Civil Society Regional Reference Group Members, click 

For more information on the Spotlight Initiative:


Media contacts:

Hamlet Johannes: h[email protected]        

Soraia Ribeiro: [email protected]

Priscilla Mawuena Adjeidu:

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