January 26, 2021
Episcopal Relief & Development has received a $188,436 three-year grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund), in partnership and with funding through the European Union and United Nations Spotlight Initiative. The grant will focus on strengthening the organization's existing program partnership with the Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief & Development (ECLRD) to address violence against women and girls in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With prior funding from UN Trust Fund, Islamic Relief USA and the Laura Ellen & Robert Muglia Family Foundation, Episcopal Relief & Development, in partnership with ECLRD, is implementing an interfaith program in Liberia to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. The partnership mobilizes faith leaders, community members, local government and children to change behaviors and attitudes, reducing violence and providing support to survivors of violence. The program was originally launched in 2015 and has reached 41,067 women and girls with outreach, advocacy and direct care.
"Physical distancing measures put in place in response to COVID-19 hampered faith leaders and program staffs' abilities to respond to incidents of violence and reduced the capacity of services such as domestic violence shelters," said Chiseche Mibenge, Director, Gender Initiatives, Episcopal Relief & Development. "This grant will enable us to adapt existing gender-based violence prevention and response programming to address the new challenges created by the pandemic and other crises as they arise."
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church of Liberia has continued to focus on the rights and dignity of women in their development work. The organization elevates the voices of women and youth advocates in community mobilization. ECLRD has deepened its collaboration with state agencies and service providers, which has improved its ability to partner with survivors as the survivors define their needs and priorities for restoration and healing.
In addition to strengthening capacity to respond in times of emergencies to the evolving needs of the communities they serve, the Spotlight Initiative grant will support data collection efforts on the effects of COVID-19 and economic empowerment programming, particularly as it relates to gender. The grant will also support ECLRD's efforts in addressing the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions and decision-making, which will continue to elevate the rights and roles of women in the community.
"Qualitative research on how COVID-19 affects gender enables women's rights actors to customize their response to the need of women and girls in and out of pandemics," said Annette Musu Kiawu, National Director, ECLRD. "It is essential that we understand the nature of abuse and violence being experienced in order for us to meet them where they need it most."
To learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development's work to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, click here. Learn more about the organization's response to the COVID-19 pandemic at episcopalrelief.org/pandemicresponse.