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Requiring national action plans in legislation

Laws on violence against women should require creation of a national action plan to eliminate violence against women. A national action plan can be an extremely useful tool with which to assess strengths and weaknesses, set targets, identify private organizations that can help implement new laws or priorities, and plot future initiatives to prevent violence against women. Action plans and strategies should also provide for consistent funding of implementation programs. 

Requiring national action plans in legislation

Drafters should specify that a national action plan must:

  • Be evidence-based
  • Rely on extensive consultation with relevant groups and individuals
  • Include benchmarks and sanctions for non-compliance
  • Clearly identify costs and funding sources for each component of the plan

Legislation from around the world provides helpful examples of the ways that drafters have required the development of national action plans.

(a) prepare a national policy framework to guide the implementation and administration of this Act in order to secure acceptable and uniform treatment of all sexual related offences including treatment and care of victims of sexual offences;

(b) review the policy framework at least once every five years; and

(c) when required, amend the policy framework.

Article 46.

In compliance with the law, Kenya’s Attorney General appointed a multisectoral task force to develop the National Action Plan. See: Anne Kithaka, Enforcement of the Sexual Offences Act in Kenya (2008).

  • Mexico’s Law on Access of Women to a Life Free of Violence (Spanish) prioritizes the inclusion of measures and policies to address violence against women in the National Development Plan and obliges the Government to formulate and implement a national policy to prevent, address, sanction and eradicate violence against women.
  • The Law of Spain is one of the most comprehensive laws on violence against women and has several specific provisions that require national action plans. For example Article 3 states:

With immediate effect from the entry of this Act, and the corresponding budgetary allocation, the Government shall launch a National Sensitisation and Prevention Plan regarding Violence against Women which should at least:

  • Present to society of new scales of values based on respect for basic rights and liberties and the equality of men and women, and on the exercise of tolerance and freedom as part of the democratic principles of coexistence, viewed within the context of gender relations.
  • Target both men and women from a platform of intercultural, community-based work.
  • Envisage a comprehensive supplementary training and recycling programme for the professionals dealing with situations of gender violence.
  • Be overseen by a broad-based Commission, to be created within one month at most, whose members shall include victims, institutions, professionals and people of acknowledged repute for their work on this issue.
  • Uruguay’s Law 17.514 (Spanish) also mandates the design of a national plan against domestic violence.
  • Certain regional agreements also require that states develop national action plans on violence against women. The Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development, which addresses gender-based violence and sexual harassment, requires that states to “ensure that national action plans, with measurable time frames, are put in place, and that national and regional monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are developed and implemented.” The Protocol further requires collection and analysis of baseline data against which to monitor progress, and also notes that disputes about state implementation of the protocol may be referred to the Southern African Development Community Tribunal.
  • The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) is the first legally-binding multi-country human rights instrument in Europe on violence against women and domestic violence. It obliges states to reform laws, implement practical measures to aid victims, and, importantly, allocate adequate resources for an effective response to violence against women and domestic violence. In addition states must involve all relevant actors in the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, including national parliaments and institutions and non-governmental and civil society organizations. The Convention will enter into force once ten countries have ratified it. Eight of the ten ratifying countries must be Council of Europe member states. An ongoing list of signatures and ratifications can be found here. Available here in 28 languages.