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Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in the world today. It is a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s and girls’ human rights and development and therefore a threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. While there have been efforts to address and eliminate Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and Harmful Practices (HP) in the African region, and improved access to, and exercise of, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), progress has remained slow and uneven, and the approaches have been fragmented. It is increasingly clear that the elimination of all forms of SGBV and HP is intrinsically connected to transformation of gender and socio-cultural norms including those related to women’s sexuality and reproduction; and to improving women’s access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health information and services.
Malawi ranks 145/188 on the Gender Inequality Index, reflecting high levels of inequalities in reproductive health, women’s empowerment and economic activity. Women in Malawi generally fare worse than men on most social and economic indicators including wage equality, political participation, secondary and tertiary education enrolment and literacy. Additionally, violence against women and girls and harmful practices, including early and forced marriages, sexual assaults, harmful sexual initiation, and domestic violence, remain serious issues. Nearly half of Malawi’s girls marry before turning 18 (47%), and the adolescent birth rate is very high, with 30% of babies born to mothers 19 years or younger. Early sexual initiation with limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, lead to early pregnancies, which prevent girls from finishing school, expose them to HIV/AIDS and is the leading cause of mortality among girls 15-19.
In response to this, the European Union and the United Nations are embarking on a new multi-year program, entitled the Spotlight Initiative, focused on eliminating violence against women and girls and harmful practices. The initiative will deploy targeted, large-scale investments in a focused number of countries aimed at achieving significant impact in the lives of women and girls. It comes with the highest level of commitment globally and the initiative will be governed by the UN Deputy Secretary General and the Vice President of the EU Commission. The Spotlight Initiative is a flagship programme under the UN Reform, showing how the UN will work together towards a common goal, and a targeted investment in a usually underfunded SDG (SDG 5).
Malawi has been selected as one of eight countries in Africa to receive a share of the global grant of €500 million after submission of a proposal earlier this year. A two-year country programme has been developed by the four participating UN agencies (UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNDP) in collaboration with the EU locally, Government partners and the civil society. The Initiative is built around six pillars after an extensive global theory of change exercise. The pillars are: 1) Laws and Policies; 2) Institutions; 3) Prevention and Social Norms; 4) Services; 5) Data; and 6) Women’s movement. The country programme has interventions in all pillars.
Malawi will start implementation of the Country Programme in 2019. As the majority of activities will be on the grassroot level, reaching the furthest behind first, there is a need for six full-time Joint Programme District Coordinators in the Spotlight Initiative districts to coordinate and lead the Spotlight activities and roll-out of implementation of this very important programme at the district levels
Duties and Responsibilities
Required Skills and Experience
Masters degree or equivalent in in Law, Political Sciences, Social Sciences, Gender, or similar from an accredited University