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Maputo, Mozambique - "I was tired, I needed to do something, I felt useless and without strength. I could no longer witness the physical, psychological and verbal abuse my mother was suffering at home," said Ana Massango, 24, an activist at the Horizonte Azul Socio-Cultural Association (ASCHA) in Maputo.

Ana lived with her mother and family at her grandmother's house. After the death of her grandmother, Ana's relative became responsible for the management of the house and that is when the violence against her mother began." After my grandmother's death, my mother began to suffer humiliation for not working and not contributing to the household. If we spent three days without arguments, it was a miracle; my mother suffered a lot of abuse and that affected me a lot," said Ana, visibly sad.

Overall, at least one in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence, usually at the hands of a family member or intimate partner. This violence often leaves deep wounds in the lives of these women and girls.

One day, Ana decided to go to ASCHA - Horizonte Azul Socio-Cultural Association, a youth association that congregates mostly young women and girls, who work for the promotion and protection of human rights, empowerment, and gender equality. With the help of ASCHA, Ana reported the case to the police. Ana was also invited to join the organization: today she is a youth trainer and helps more girls to have a better future, free of violence. "We realize that violence is something that is rooted in our community, something seen as a social practice, so we try to deconstruct this violence and help empower girls," says Ana, who today trains groups of 30 to 50 girls, between the ages of 12 and 24.

Today, Ana helps her mother financially and the violence has stopped in her family. "My dream is to be a businesswoman, have a community school and provide jobs for other women. I want to see all the women in Mozambique empowered so that they are financially independent and can fight for their dreams."

Violence against women and girls has been ignored or kept in the shadows for a long time. The European Union and the United Nations in Mozambique launched, on 8 March 2019, an initiative focused on the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls - the Spotlight Initiative. The name of the Initiative - Spotlight - symbolizes the importance of bringing violence from the shadows into the light so that it can be seen, approached, and eliminated. Mozambique is willing to spread this light for women and girls and has help from everyone.

Horizonte Azul is a civil society organization partnering with UN Women to eliminate violence against women and girls in public spaces under the "Maputo City Safe" project. The project aims to benefit 2,500 girls and boys from 7 high schools in Maputo and about 500 community and opinion leaders from the neighborhoods of Maxaquene and Lhamankulo.

Together with ASCHA, in 2018, UN Women engaged 300 community and opinion leaders through social mobilization activities that contributed to increasing their knowledge and skills in recognizing and dealing with violence against women and girls in public spaces. In addition, 324 girls and 191 boys participated in a school-based prevention program to increase their knowledge about violence and ways to eliminate it. Through the project, young people (girls and boys) from 7 secondary schools are also involved in "artivism" (art as a way of combating violence) and in the production of manual art in their free time. Engagement in these activities contributes to an occupation to prevent risky behaviors among young people while promoting income generation strategies. These interventions are part of a wider effort for male engagement in promoting gender equality and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in Mozambique, which will continue under the Spotlight Initiative.