Womankind produces first official DFID guidance on tackling violence against women
Over the past few years, successful campaigning by organisations including Womankind has propelled violence against women and girls up the UK Government’s foreign policy agenda. It’s now one of the four pillars of the Department for International Development’s (DFID) Gender Strategy and 18 DFID country offices are planning programmes on violence against women – a marked change from just a couple of years back.
Asking the experts
Tackling violence against women is relatively uncharted territory for DFID and the agency has looked to civil society for advice about ‘what works’ in tackling violence against women and girls.
Earlier this year, Womankind secured an exciting opportunity to directly shape the Government’s approach to addressing violence against women when we were asked by DFID to write their first official guidance on how to create effective projects to tackle violence against women.
We did this in collaboration with ActionAid, with support from other members of the Gender and Development Network and an international group of experts. The guidance was published last month and sent to all DFID’s offices in countries around the world and shared widely with like-minded governments and the United Nations.
This was a fantastic opportunity for Womankind to promote the expertise and insights we have gained over 23 years working with more than 200 women’s rights organisations in over 20 countries. For example, the guidance demonstrates the unique and essential role played by women’s rights movements in tackling violence against women globally.
We also emphasised the importance of transforming the social norms that underpin violence against women and bolster the impunity of abusers, such as the social acceptance of wife beating or the belief that men have the right to control and discipline female behaviour through the use of violence.
Innovative examples from Womankind’s partners tackling violence
Drawing on insights from our partners around the world, we identified lessons to guide DFID in developing innovative and effective approaches to ending violence against women.
In Ethiopia, for example, our partner KMG have demonstrated the far-reaching impact that’s possible when organisations take the time to build rapport and trust with communities and secure the backing of traditional and religious leaders. KMG bring communities together to promote critical reflection on traditional norms and practices like female genital mutilation. Before KMG’s intervention, nearly 97% of people in the Kembatta Tembaro Zone of Ethiopia said they would get their daughters circumcised; just ten years later, as a result of KMG’s work, this figure had fallen to less than 5%.
Ground-breaking approaches are also being used in Ghana, where our partner the Gender Centre has set up community-based action teams to provide direct support to women and girls to help resolve cases of violence. Drawn from members of the village who receive training from our partner, ‘Combat’ teams visit homes to speak with families directly and deal with the formal handling of complaints. They also provide counselling and directly accompany women who go to the police or medical services. The Gender Centre’s work has shown the value of mobilising respected members of the community to act as role models and lead social change.
And in Uganda, our partner Isis-Wicce has pioneered a new approach to support women and girl survivors of violence after conflict. Isis-Wicce has supported over 2,000 women to receive gynaecological surgeries and treatment and over 3,000 individuals to receive counselling and trauma management. They combine this with training for women in human rights and peace building; many women they have worked with have gone on to become advocates for women’s rights and peace.
Amplifying our reach
Although it’s too early to determine the full impact of the guidance, it already has a high profile across and beyond DFID. By sharing the knowledge and expertise of our partner organisations in this way, and using this as the basis for influencing important players like DFID, we have been able to amplify our influence well beyond the women we reach directly, to affect the lives of tens of thousands more women around the world.
Download the guidance:
- Violence Against Women Guidance - Theory of Change (2012) pdf
- Practical Guidance on Community Programming on Violence against Women and Girls (2012) pdf
- Guidance on Monitoring and Evaluation for Violence against Women Programmes (2012) pdf