The What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Newsletter

- February 2018 -
"Building knowledge on violence prevention" 
- Latest Evidence from What Works -

No Safe Place: A Lifetime of Violence for Conflict- Affected Women and Girls in South Sudan

As part of the What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) in conflict and humanitarian settings programme, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Global Women’s Institute at the George Washington University (GWI) and CARE International UK conducted research to obtain rigorous data on the prevalence, forms, and drivers of VAWG in South Sudan. The mixed methods study explored the situation of women and girls in five settings in South Sudan: Juba City, Juba County, Rumbek Centre, two Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites in Juba, and one PoC site in Bentiu. The study found that interpersonal violence is the most prevalent form of violence within these settings, with up to 65% of women and girls experiencing physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. These are among the highest rates of VAWG in the world. A breakdown in the rule of law has also contributed to an environment of impunity, where there are markedly few consequences for men who commit acts of violence. To reduce violence against women and girls in these areas of South Sudan, prevention programmes need to address the root causes and drivers of VAWG, as well as provide direct service delivery to these communities.  Read the full report here
New research from What Works reveals high rates of spousal violence in Bangladesh
New research launched in Dhaka in January 2018 revealed high levels of spousal violence in Dhaka, Bangladesh –27% of women experienced spousal violence during the last 12 months –  with even higher rates, almost double, amongst female garment workers (53%). Of those, 40% reported symptoms of depression. The What Works research released by the icddr,b and BSR’s HERproject suggests that business can play a pivotal role in preventing spousal violence, by leveraging the workplace as platforms of positive social change. The programme is implementing and evaluating workplace interventions in four ready-made garment factories in Bangladesh to reduce these high rates of violence, with end-line findings due at the end of the year. The baseline data will soon be published on the What Works website. For more details about the project as a whole, check here
 Findings from Afghanistan reveal children’s experience and perpetration of peer violence is strongly linked to their own exposure to family violence
The What Works baseline evaluation of a Peace Education and Violence Prevention Programme in Jawzjan Province, Afghanistan, found that a fifth of girls and a slightly smaller proportion of boys reported physical beating at home in the past month, and more than a third of girls and an even higher proportion of boys reported corporal punishment by teachers at school in this period. Boys were more likely to perpetrate violence against their peers than girls. Girls who had witnessed their fathers fighting with other men were more likely to perpetrate violence against their peers. Food insecurity also predicted peer violence perpetration among boys, and of both, peer violence perpetration and victimization among girls. Girls who were victimized or who perpetrated violence against their peers were more likely to have depressive symptoms and to have experienced physical beating at home, and girls with disabilities were much more likely to have experienced peer violence victimization than non-disabled girls. The intervention is supporting peace education for boys and girls in school, and community conflict resolution and peace building training among influential and religious leaders and women’s civil society organisations. Full report here
Does faith matter? Faith, social norms and violence against women and girls in conflict-affected communities in the DRC
New evidence from Tearfund’s research in Ituri Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, conducted as part of What Works, shows the significant reach and influence of faith within these communities. One of the most striking findings was that while scriptures can be used to justify violence, active faith engagement[1] was consistently shown to correlate with more empowering attitudes for both men and women, and also showed a protective correlation in terms of reduced intimate partner violence (IPV). Being married and holding the belief that a woman can refuse sex were other protective factors for IPV; while geographical location, a partner’s alcohol consumption, and witnessing domestic violence as a child increased a woman’s risk of experiencing IPV.  The survey was conducted as part of the integrated research component of Tearfund’s project ‘Engaging with Faith Groups to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict-affected Communities’. Full report here 
New evidence brief illustrates how social norms are key drivers of violence perpetration
The term ‘social norms’ is defined by the Oxford University Press as; “Common standards within a social group regarding socially acceptable or appropriate behaviour in particular social situations, the breach of which has social consequences”. In the context of violence against women and girls, it refers to how a community or social group normally ‘does’ gender or uses violence. Social norms are dynamic and changeable and are influenced by age and socio-economic status. They are a reference point for individual thought and action. The large categories of social norms such as those around violence, are built from norms related to more narrow ideas and behaviours such as those on punishing children. What Works recently published an evidence brief which unpacks these social norms, how they drive violence against women and children and the critical role that social norm change interventions can play in reducing violence, for example those working in schools, or with individuals and families, or working through mass media. Read the full Social Norms Evidence Brief here
- In The Media -
South Sudan war seeps into homes, spurring domestic violence
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Civil war in South Sudan is generating unseen levels of domestic violence, according to a study released in November 2017, showing a reported increase in the brutality and frequency of assaults. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and a third of the East African country’s 12 million residents have been forced to flee since civil war broke out in 2013. More than half of the South Sudanese women interviewed said they have suffered domestic abuse in their lives, according to the study by George Washington University (GW) and the International Rescue Committee. Read the full article released by Reuters here
Asia Plus covers key findings from Tajikistan
International Alert and CESVI together with local partners presented key findings of their formative research “Living with Dignity” to DFID and the British Ambassador at the British High Commission in Dushanbe. International Alert are working with Tajik NGO partners to build a multi-component project to address underlying factors that condone and contribute to domestic violence in Tajikistan. The research indicated several possible entry points for domestic violence and sexual and gender-based violence prevention work, including working with leaders in the informal sector, creating safe spaces for discussing frustrations and fears, as well as reinforcing positive local gender norms and working towards changing harmful ones.  Read the full article here
Business Ghana reports on the British High Commissioner in Ghana spotlighting the What Works programme
British High Commissioner in Ghana, Iain Walker, spotlights the What Works programme during a forum on the Business Cost of Violence Against Women & Girls in Ghana. Read the full article here
- On Film -
Equal Access Nepal: Change Starts At Home

Care International Rwanda: Indashyikirwa

- Coming Up -

Learning from the Global Experience, Copenhagen, 19 February 2018
D enmark, Sweden and Norway have long been strong advocates for gender equality and are investing in VAWG prevention and response initiatives both at home and globally. As part of its International Women’s Day 2018 celebrations and commitment to preventing VAWG, the British Embassy in Copenhagen, in collaboration with the What Works programme, is co-hosting a roundtable and reception bringing together researchers, policy makers and practitioners working with men and women on VAWG prevention programmes both within the Scandinavian context and globally.

This event will present an overview of the What Works programme and emerging findings; discuss the drivers of violence against women and girls and the latest evidence on the prevalence, forms and patterns and drivers of VAWG in Kenya, South Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, and Nepal. To attend please contact Alice Kerr-Wilson:

What Works at CSW62, New York, 12-23 March 2018
The sixty-second session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018. This year’s priority theme is challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. What Works is holding two parallel events during CSW62:

1.VAWG in Conflict and Humanitarian settings
Tuesday 13 March, 10am to 11:30am at the UK mission
2.What’s driving violence against women and girls in rural settings?
Friday 16 March, 8.30am at 4 W 43rd Street, Green Room.
These UKAID funded events are co-sponsored by South African Medical Research Council, Social Development Direct, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We would love you to join us. If you would like to attend either of the events detailed above, please contact
Fireside Chat with Mary Ellsberg and Lori Heise on International Women’s Day, Washington DC, Thursday 1 March 2018
The Interagency Gender Working Group is hosting Mary Ellsberg, GWI Director, and Lori Heise, visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, for a "Fireside Chat" on gender-based violence. In honour of International Women’s Day, Mary and Lori will share their reflections on notable turning points in the field; thoughts on current research, programmatic and advocacy efforts; and persistent challenges. They will also discuss how their own careers have evolved in response to the priorities of the field and offer their thoughts for the future.
When: March 1, 9:00-11:30am EDT
Where: International Student House, 1825 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
RSVP or attend virtually by emailing Laura Bloom,, by February 22.

The What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls Programme is a flagship programme from the UK Department for International Development, which is investing an unprecedented £25 million over five years to the prevention of violence against women and girls. It supports primary prevention efforts across Africa and Asia that seek to understand and address the underlying causes of violence, and to stop it from occurring. Through three complementary components, the programme focuses on generating evidence from rigorous primary research and evaluations of existing interventions to understanding what works to prevent violence against women and girls generally, and in fragile and conflict areas. Additionally the programme estimates social and economic costs of violence against women and girls, developing the economic case for investing in prevention.


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What Works to Prevent Violence · PO Box 19070 7505 · Tygerberg · Capetown, Capetown 7505 · South Africa

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