Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe

The Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, and being implemented by UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF and the ILO in Zimbabwe. The programme is an integrated package of interventions across six (6) pillars which are: 1) legislative and policy frameworks; 2) institutional strengthening; 3) prevention and social norms; 4) delivery of quality essential services; 5) data availability and capacities and 6) supporting the women’s movement. The ILO’s contribution spreads across Pillars 3, 4, and 6 and is multi-pronged, drawing on lessons from its international labour standard focussed on ending violence and harassment in the world of work and promoting women economic empowerment as both a preventive and mitigatory measure to reduce GBV targeting survivors of GBV, PLHIV, women with disabilities, and women in extreme poverty . The Spotlight Initiative is funded by the EU.


The Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls which is being funded by the EU and implemented through the UN systems. The overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe is that women and girls realize their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive Zimbabwe. The initiative will directly contribute to Zimbabwe’s achievement of two of the country’s prioritized Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 3 and SDG 5. The programme will contribute to the elimination of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Harmful Practices (HP) through the creation of a broad partnership with civil society, Government, private sector, media, among others.

The overall Spotlight Initiative programme has a concentration of a comprehensive and integrated package of interventions across six (6) pillars which are:
  1. Legislative and Policy frameworks
  2. Institutional strengthening
  3.  Prevention and Social Norms
  4. Delivery of quality Essential Services
  5. Data Availability and Capacities
  6. Supporting the Women’s Movement


The ILO contribution to the Spotlight Initiative is multi-pronged and spreads across Pillars 3, 4, and 6, drawing on the lessons learned from its standard-setting process on ending violence and harassment in the world of work . In 2017, the ILO conducted a Rapid Situational Analysis on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace in Zimbabwe. The findings showed the prevalence of many forms of violence in the workplace across various sectors, but the highest being Sexual Harassment, Verbal, Emotional, and Economic. Based on this and other evidence, some of the proposed activities will model comprehensive SGBV programmes in both public and private work spaces, to strengthen workplace policy and reporting mechanisms.

In addition, poverty is a recognised driver of gender-based discrimination and violence that has led to an increase in the feminization of poverty in both rural and urban areas. Evidence from studies by the ILO and others show that investments in economic empowerment is a prerequisite for sustainable development, pro-poor growth and the achievement of the SDGs. Data from the targeted Spotlight Initiative districts reflect high levels of poverty rates, even higher than the National Poverty Rate of 72.3%. For example, in Mashonaland Central Province which has a total population of 1.152 million people, all the targeted 6 district have Poverty rates ranging from 74.2% - 88.4%, with half of that population being women. This illustrates the scale of the problem in Zimbabwe. The ILO will also implement economic empowerment activities targeting 4,500 women, which complement the education and recovery work being done by UNFPA, UNICEF, UNWOMEN, and UNDP.


The project has 2 main objectives:

Objective 1

Strengthen the capacity of employers and workers and their organisations to develop and implement sector specific and enterprise level policies and programmes to address violence and harassment in the world of work

Objective 2

Strengthen the capacity of women and girls to participate in productive economic sectors


The overall Zimbabwe Country Programme will use a multi-sectoral, multi-layered, interlinked community-centered approach to the implementation of the interventions in the six pillars based on the socio-ecological model for addressing SGBV and HPs.

The proposed activities to be implemented by the ILO will model comprehensive SGBV programmes in both public and private work spaces, to strengthen workplace policy and reporting mechanisms. The workplace is taken as a theatre for change, with both employers and workers being engaged as change agents in their respective roles. The strategy is to create a conducive environment through social dialogue around policy development and review in the public and private sectors. Demonstration comprehensive programmes will be implemented in selected work places to inform scaling up. In particular, it also includes interventions to strength women trade unionists in their advocacy work against SGBV, as a way to prevent and mitigate SGBV in the world of work.

The ILO will also implement economic empowerment activities. The strategy proposes a new longer-term recovery methodology for survivors of SGBV and Harmful Practices, and other women in conditions of vulnerability, through implementation of women economic programmes. Financial freedom can foster a culture of being in control and being able to make decisions without domination or influence because of the intersection between economic and gender-based expressions of power, economic rights and the right to be free of violence. Financial freedom increases women’s household bargaining power and ability to leave a violent relationship; household poverty decreases; women learn skills that help them negotiate household gender power relations; and at the community level, it contributes to shifts in attitudes and gender relations of power. In this area, the ILO has tested tools in enterprise development, social finance and gender.


This model allows multi-level partnerships, including public sector organisations and private sector companies as direct beneficiaries and implementing partners. Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs), and working with CSOs, mainly as implementing partners. Specific partners include:


The expected outputs are:

SGBV in the Workplace

  1. ncreased knowledge and understanding among women and men on socio-cultural factors that fuel GBV
  2. Model workplace policies and programmes in public and private work spaces developed for the prevention and mitigation of violence and sexual harassment at work

Women Economic Empowerment Component

  1. Entrepreneurship development, business development services and market-led short-term training for at least 2,500 vulnerable women in 5 selected districts designed and implemented
  2. Financial literacy and technical market-led short term training for at least 2,000 women survivors of SGBV/HP designed and implemented