STANDING IN THE GAP

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Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation. As a human rights issue enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and other national human rights instruments (as mentioned above), it is recognized that gender-based violence violates the principle of equality between men and women and persists because of this inequality due to the entrenched patriarchal system.

Therefore the project (Standing in the Gap: Strengthening Women’s Access to Referral Services, Information and Justice to Curb Gender-Based Violence) is approaching violence against women and girls from a rights perspective, which requires that gender inequality is addressed and that women’s rights are upheld and they are given the power to shape their lives after violence through access to effective referral systems, justice, information, care and support.

A human rights-based approach like the project proposes requires developing the capacities of ‘duty-bearers’ or those responsible for implementing the law and providing support (e.g. lawyers, judiciary, police, health service and counselling service providers, among others) on human rights and gender issues and what these mean and how they can be applied in the context of violence against women.

The project sets to achieve this by enhancing the capacity of duty-bearers to implement an effective case management system; which firstly ensures proper modalities for receiving GBV complaints; channeling this information through the appropriate reporting channels and then coordinating all actors, who will be involved with the survivors, to ensure all responding institutions work together and understand their role. Also, there has to be an enhancement and adoption of comprehensive guidelines for referrals and the development of standard operating procedures to guide the operations of the case management system.

By doing this, all actors will understand that effective coordination involves good communication, standard operation guidelines, understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities and the important links among services, and collective problem-solving and information sharing—which must be done respecting the safety, security, dignity and confidentiality of survivors.