equalityDevelopment Connect has vast experience in developing and overseeing (joint UN-led) programs on violence against women (VAW) prevention programs, influencing policies working with regional and local networks and leaders, and designing and managing multi-country research initiatives using a combination of quantitative, qualitative and political analysis methodologies.

Development Connect is part of a technical roster of experts maintained by UN Women to regularly review global proposal submissions to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. It focuses on supporting country and local implementation of laws, policies and action plans to address violence against women, while maintaining flexibility in terms of responsiveness to a wide range of forms of violence, national and emerging priorities and needs, and diverse approaches.

Prevention of VAW describes efforts to stop violence before it starts. Generally speaking, response refers to efforts to support and protect those that experience(d) violence, whereas prevention focuses on identifying and addressing underlying causes of violence to minimize the chance that it happens in the first place.

Development Connect assists its clients with conducting gender (VAW) assessments, research, program formulation (incl. developing Theories of Change, outlining indicators), evaluations and with the design and implementation of evidence-based communication strategies for primary prevention, and strategies for communicating research findings to multiple audiences. We support with campaign design including messages and tools targeting changes in awareness, attitudes and behaviors (using social media platforms). Development Connect has experience to support large national campaigns targeting boys and men and to advocate for strategic communication approaches that are informed by research, based on evidence of what has worked in the past and that incorporate strong monitoring and evaluation practices.

Development Connect has thus three areas of work that are closely integrated: research, capacity development and networking, and communication for social change. We provide direct technical assistance to UN agencies, government and civil society partners, and support (local) networks.

The variations in rates of violence across the world indicate that violence is not inevitable and that it can be prevented with sustained, coordinated and systematic action by governments, organizations, communities and individuals. Together, prevention and response are needed to reduce the prevalence of VAW and to support gender-equality and non-violent norms in societies on a wider scale.

Why is prevention important?

Ending violence against women before it starts is necessary to minimize the enormous human, economic and public health costs associated with violence, and to move toward more peaceful, prosperous and equitable societies in which people can realize their right to security, equality and freedom and achieve their potential, mitigate possible lingering inter-generational effects of violence within families.

Prevention initiatives benefit societies as a whole, not only individuals, and have many positive long-term effects. Further, it reduces costs to survivors and governments (health, social and criminal justice services, loss of work and income) as well as hidden or unquantifiable costs such as suffering, anxiety and other detriments to long-term well-being.

From a practical point of view, scaling up prevention policies and programs is critical to address VAW. According to the WHO, between 15 and 76 percent of women, in different countries across the world, report(ed) having experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Given the scale of the problem, most societies cannot afford to provide adequate services to all those who experience violence. Combining prevention approaches with response efforts is the only way forward to reduce VAW. The good news is that we know violence against women is preventable, and there are multiple strategies that are effective in reducing different kinds of violence.

There is no single factor that “causes” gender-based violence, but many of the variables associated with men’s use of violence are related to broad areas of development assistance including gender inequality, conflict and vulnerability. To be effective, prevention interventions must be coordinated to influence changes among individuals, communities and institutions. And to reduce violence in the long term Development Connect will work closely together across sectors and areas of development assistance. As part of its learning approach, Development Connect also facilitates (regional) meetings and supports networks of partners to design curricula (and prevention toolkits), capture and share knowledge in terms of what works and what else is needed, paying particular attention to engaging men and boys and working on masculinities.

Approaches to engaging men and boys for VAW prevention include: a) addressing masculinities; b) an analysis of gender, inter-sectionality and power; c) linking health / primary prevention approaches and social science / gender and power approaches; d) making the links between interpersonal and structural levels that feed the conditions that produce gender-based violence; and e) the need for complementarity and coordination between working with men and boys and empowering women and girls, as well as between prevention and response; and f) a rights-based approach.

VAW arises from a complex interplay of factors at the individual, family, community and society levels like social acceptance of violence, discriminatory (customary/religious) laws, community norms that grant men control over female behavior, masculinities linked to dominance, sexual entitlement and aggression, childhood experiences of violence, inequitable gender attitudes, and harmful use of alcohol, among others.

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The following framework for action to PREVENT violence against women outlines seven key action areas that can be undertaken which are based on existing global evidence on risks and protective factors.

Building on the PREVENT framework, the following table outlines a five step process steps that can help guide towards formulate effective violence against women prevention programs or policies.

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STEP 1

Apply Research Findings
Use research findings on violence against from your country to: (1) identify priority changes needed to prevent future violence based on local risk/protective factors, and (2) identify priority target groups.

 

STEP 2

Review Program/Policy Evidence
Examine the global evidence base on primary prevention programming and policy development and choose the intervention that is most appropriate to your selected target group and change objectives.

 

STEP 3

Apply Theory of Change
Assess and apply a theory of change to articulate: (1) the drivers of the problem (2) what the program/policy seeks to change (3) how this change will be achieved (4) how change be sustained.

 

STEP 4

Contextualize & Localize
Adapt the intervention to your local context by using on-the-ground realities to shape the program/policy design and implementation plan. Plan interventions to complement other activities taking place at the same.

 

STEP 5

Monitor and Evaluate
Choose an M&E approach that is appropriate to your context. Your selection of M&E approach should take into account your target group, and intended outcomes of the project, as well as staff capacity and financial resources.