Gender-based violence (GBV) is an issue prevalent worldwide.
The World Bank’s research suggests that one in three women faces gender-based violence in their lifetime. Research also shows that it is likely to affect women in both developed and developing countries, regardless of socioeconomic background. In some places, forms of such violence is so normalised that women don’t report incidents. They do not feel they would get assistance from neither bystanders nor the local governance if they filed complaints.
If that is the case, then how should gender-based violence be mitigated?
Eliminating GBV requires strategies that protect, reduce, prevent and mitigate underlying risks. Worldwide, several groups and communities are working to reduce GBV – some individually, others in collaboration. A multistakeholder approach, when done right, is a great way to tackle this, as it combines the resources and initiatives from multiple organisations in a cohesive manner.
For 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2019, we are reflecting on some of the best use cases of integrated interventions from across the globe.
A multistakeholder approach to implementation on the ground
Tamkine, is a programme in Morocco which integrated efforts from 13 national entities and over 50 NGOs to give women enhanced access to legal, psychological, social and economic support. The initiative recognised that women and children are especially vulnerable to GBV as they are more likely to be economically dependent on others.
To empower GBV survivors to get out of crisis situations, Tamkine integrated both short-term solutions (rehabilitation shelters) and long-term opportunities (livelihood and education initiatives). Despite facing infrastructural and policy-level challenges in setting up the mechanisms of collaborating cohesively, Tamkine thrived due to the relentless drive of its stakeholders.
Major takeaway? When designing a multi-pronged approach, ensure that the intervention covers both mitigation and rehabilitation aspects of combating GBV, and iterate as needed.
Intersecting data with governance
In India, Safecity is a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. The data it collects gets aggregated as hotspots on a virtual map indicating trends of violence at a localised level. This is useful for local authorities, communities, and individuals to identify factors that lead to more violence in certain areas, and work on finding strategies for contextual solutions.
In India, generating evidence through data has changed the way local authorities, especially police, operate. In Mumbai, police patrolling time and resources in specific areas were modified to reduce public instances of GBV. Pune, Goa and a few other Indian cities followed suit. Safecity has been a great example of how technology and social campaigns has connected to the local authorities with actionable data.
Major takeaway? A technological solution is only successful when it is tagged with local authorities and law enforcement agencies.
These are just two wonderful initiatives fighting gender-based violence globally. In recent years, we have seen more instances of innovative and inclusive initiatives of combating such violence.
In Bangladesh, BRAC’s MEJNIN focused on adolescents girls, trying to create a safe space for them to talk about the harassment they face, and to build their resilience to such instances. Operating in both urban and rural areas, MEJNIN took a unique approach to raising awareness in communities about gender-based violence.
It asked adolescent girls to map out hotspots around the community where they are likely to face harassment. After that, BRAC educated students, teachers and parents on understanding GBV, helped create support networks to build confidence of girls to resist harassment, and then, mobilised a network of community volunteers to safeguard these young girls in the identified hotspots.
In Nigeria, IMpower works with schools, rallying both male and female students to create a culture of mutual respect, and equipping girls with self-defense skills. IMpower not only empowers young girls to defend themselves, but also makes allies out of the next generation of males and females, ensuring that they grow up understanding the value of consent, and stand up to reduce GBV. In Nigeria, following the completion of the first round of programme, interventions by the students when witnessing an assault jumped from 26% to 74%. With this backdrop, IMpower also fosters connections with local medical, legal and psychosocial services, enriching the access of the schools students – especially girls – to such services.
Multi-stakeholder approaches can vary – between governance agencies and NGOs, or with public activist groups, or between organisations and individuals. The end goal is to mitigate gender-based violence and eventually lead to gender equitability via tested solutions that work.
The problem cannot be solved overnight, but it can be resolved, eventually. Public activist groups, NGOs, governments and policy makers, media activists and other stakeholders all have a part to play, be it via individual pledge efforts, ala HeForShe, or via meaningful collaborations.
Traditionally, activities of different stakeholders have been focused on individual agendas. But, fostering strategic links between stakeholders to produce evidence on resolving GBV, and then take implementation and policy level decisions backed on the evidence would definitely yield more effective results.
Shafqat Aurin is an Interaction Designer with the BRAC Social Innovation Lab. Nishat Tasnim is a Deputy Manager, Innovation Ecosystem and Partnerships with the BRAC Social Innovation Lab.