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a time for peace and peace building

Looking back on 2015, and the violence that dominated our headlines, from Kenya and Nigeria to Beirut and Paris, the end of year offers a welcome moment of respite to pause and enjoy moments of peace with our loved ones, and to reflect on how we can all contribute to building a broader culture of peace for the future.
Across 2015, the reminders of mass violence – insurgency, war, shootings, bombings – seemed constant and heart-breaking. And yet, largely left out of those headlines were the more constant expressions of violence against women and girls that happen every day, in every part of the world. The silent struggles of women and girls who never garner any headlines, unless there is a famous celebrity involved. As we mark the end of the year, we at What Works would like to remember the thousands of women around the world who did not make the headlines, but were killed, hurt, violated or harassed, and express our hope and commitment to doing all we can to prevent this from happening to others. Read more.


In September, the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) hosted its fourth biennial SVRI Forum. As the largest gathering of violence against women and girls researchers in the global south, it brings together the world’s leading experts on research into violence against women and girls, to share innovative ideas about how to end gender-based violence.

We know that violence against women and girls is one of the greatest social, economic and public health problems facing the world today. In response, the Sexual Violence Research Initiative was set up to promote good quality research in the area of sexual violence, with a particular focus on the Global South. The forum brings together researchers, gender activists, funders, policymakers, service providers, practitioners and survivors from all over the world to showcase innovative practices to end sexual violence, intimate partner violence and child abuse, and strengthen responses to survivors in low and middle income countries – its ultimate purpose to understand what is working and why, with a view to scaling up those successes. Read more.
  • herrespect launches in bangladesh
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  • pots and flags to prevent violence against women: what's in a metaphor?
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  • when nompu found a job: the impact of helping young people in South Africa strengthen their livelihoods
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Hundreds march for hope on the launch of new violence prevention programme in rwanda

Erin Stern, Study Coordinator of What Works Impact Evaluation of Indashyikirwa, on preventing GBV and building healthy relationships in families

A few weeks ago, on Friday 4 December 2015, a swathe of people decked out in orange – the colour of hope and the theme colour for the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women in Rwanda – made their way through the Northern Rwandan town of Musanze, clapping, dancing and chanting songs to the string and bow of the umuduri, calling for an end to gender-based violence. They had all come to be a part of the official launch of Indashyikirwa, a DFID-funded project designed to empower women and engage men, to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG).
Read more.


Globally one-third of urban residents live in urban informal settlements; these are sites of exceedingly high rates of violence against women and girls.
Two What Works-funded projects in South Africa, Stepping Stones and Creating Futures, and CHANGE, are pioneering new approaches to reducing VAWG in urban informal settlements, and undertaking rigorous evaluations of these approaches.
All around the world the population is rapidly urbanising. Of the seven billion people on earth, an estimated 50% live in cities and a third of those live in urban informal settlements. Sub-Saharan Africa is no exception where the urban population is expected to double in the next two decades (UN Habitat, 2015). In Africa, 61.7% of urban dwellers live in informal settlements and, in terms of numbers, this is expected to have increased from 400 million to 1.2 billion by 2050 (UN Habitat, 2015), resulting in multiple health, employment, sanitation and educational challenges. South Africa is no different. Read more.


responding to typhoon haiyan: women and girls left behind. a study on the prevention and mitigation of violence against women and girls in the emergency response

This study uses the 2005 Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings as a tool to assess how the humanitarian sector met the needs of women and girls in the response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Read more.

couples in nepal speak out for the #16days

Change Starts at Home is a project working in Nepal to prevent violence against women and girls. Here, couples speak openly about what defines violence, for them, and why it has no place in Nepalese society.
 Watch the video here.

#perfectworld what's yours?

This two-minute short is made with researchers from around the world, who were each asked what their perfect world looks like. Watch the video here. Join the conversation and discuss with us how we can all contribute towards making this perfect world a reality, via @WhatWorksVAWG and the #perfectworld.


This paper outlines our current knowledge base regarding the issue of VAWG and identifies where the evidence base needs to be expanded in order to inform more sophisticated interventions and make a real impact on the prevalence of VAWG globally. It highlights the implications of this knowledge for prevention interventions and points to how information can be used to drive current policies and programmes as well as future research endeavours.
Access the full paper here.

GLOBAL EVIDENCE REVIEWS: FULL PEER-REVIEWED PAPER: interventions to prevent violence against women and girls

This paper examines the evidence base for the effectiveness of interventions to prevent violence against women and girls. This rapid assessment is designed to inform the violence prevention research agenda and establish a baseline of the state of knowledge and evidence. The paper is based on a rapid review of existing evidence on the impact of interventions that aim to prevent VAWG, or address key risk factors for such violence. The focus of the review was on IPV, non-partner sexual violence and child abuse. Access the full paper here.

'eh! i felt like i was sabotaged!': facilitators' understandings of success in participatory hiv and ipv prevention in urban south africa

Participatory approaches to behaviour change dominate HIV and intimate partner violence prevention interventions. Research has identified multiple challenges in the delivery of these. In this article, Andrew Gibbs, Samantha Willan, Nwabisa Jama-Shai, Laura Washington and Rachel Jewkes, who are all connected with Stepping Stones and Creating Futures, which is being evaluated care of a What Works grant, discuss how facilitators conceptualize successful facilitation and influence critical consciousness. Access the article here.

conceptualising violence: a holistic approach to understanding violence against women and girls

It is essential that researchers and activists working in the area of violence against women and girls (VAWG) adopt clear definitions that adequately recognise the variety, scope and impact of violence on women and girls, their families, communities and societies. In this paper, we examine contributions to understandings of violence from a number of disciplines which have shaped and informed the most common conceptualisations of VAWG today.  Access the article here.

creating a world free from violence

Violence against women and girls can be prevented. New studies have shown that carefully designed interventions, which focus on transforming gender norms and work at multiple levels, can significantly reduce women’s experience of violence within one to two years. These interventions show great promise for our goal of creating a world free from violence as envisaged in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Access the article here.



What Works presence at the SVRI Forum and its activities across the 16 Days of Activism and the ratification of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals offered us a great opportunity to spotlight some of the work we are doing in the press, here are some highlights:
At the SVRI Forum in Cape Town
Rachel Jewkes was interviewed on day one of the SVRI Forum on Power FM, one of South Africa’s biggest commercial radio stations, you can listen to the interview here:
Our What Works blog covered day one of the SVRI Forum:
Thomson Reuters Foundation interviewed Rachel Jewkes and MRC researcher Yandisa Sikweyiya for a piece which went up on the wire and was picked up around the world:
And the SVRI Forum was elegantly wrapped up by Emma Fulu on her Huffington Post blog:
On the Sustainable Development Goals and across the 16 Days of Activism
Emma Fulu reflected on the impact of the Sustainable Development Goals on her Huffington Post:

Marat Yu, of Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) wrote about his floor visit when observing a HERhealth training in a ready-made garment (RMG) factory in Bangladesh:

Andy Gibbs, of South Africa’s HEARD Gender Equality and HIV Prevention Programme, wrote a powerful blog for What Works on the impact of helping young people in South Africa strengthen their livelihoods:
Rachel Jewkes reflected on the Sustainable Development Goals on the DFID blog as the 16 Days of Activism began:
Our #perfectworld campaign was posted on Guardian Witness:
And Gemma Ferguson from Equal Access wrote an insightful piece on working with academics for The Guardian Development Professionals Network:
From What Works: VAWG in Conflict and Humanitarian Crises
Mairi MacRae, women’s rights activist, working at the IRC and Director of What Works to Prevent VAWG in Conflict and Humanitarian Crises, wrote in the Huffington Post, on the question of: what happened to women and girls during Typhoon Haiyan?:
From What Works: Economic and Social Costs of VAWG
Jennifer McCleary-Sills celebrated the progress made to end VAWG over the past 20 years, but highlighted the long road still ahead:


The end of October 2015 saw What Works to Prevent VAWG in Conflict and Humanitarian Crises completes its first year of implementation. As well as finalising and publishing our study on preventing and mitigating VAWG in the humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan (see above), we completed the formative research for the mixed methods prevalence study in South Sudan (led by the Global Women’s Institute) and the mixed methods evaluation of task-sharing in comprehensive case management in Dadaab refugee camps, Kenya (led by the APHRC and LSHTM).
2016 promises to be a big year for us as we start and complete data collection for our studies in South Sudan and Kenya. We also hope to carry out an impact evaluation on cash transfers and women’s protection and empowerment outcomes in an acute emergency in 2016. Finally, we will start data collection for our study on the links between VAWG and peacebuilding and statebuilding.

National Advisory Board Meeting in GHana

A meeting of the Ghana National Advisory Board for Component Three: Economic and Social Costs of VAWG was held on 12th of October, 2015. The meeting was convened with the support of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Stakeholders at the meeting included representatives of Government organisation, representatives of key NGO networks working on VAWG, activists, key service providers including police, known advocates and well-known academics. Members expressed great interest in both understanding the economic and social costs, as such evidence will be critical in advocacy for a comprehensive response on VAWG. There was equally strong interest in the research on impact of a community based interventions, COMBAT, being undertaken by Component 1.

Launch of working paper series

Component Three launches their working paper series with the publication of the first working paper: Conceptualising Violence: A holistic approach to understanding violence against women and girls. This paper considers the conceptualisation of violence from early sociological and political science perspectives through to the public health and human rights approaches. It considers the limitations of narrow and discipline-specific understandings of violence against women and girls and argues for a broader approach that recognises the inter-relations between forms of violence at the domestic, local and international levels. Working papers are available here.

Nata Duvvury Speaks at GLOBAL Summit on ending Violence against women: Building on Progress to Accelerate Change

Dr. Nata Duvvury, Director of Component 3, was invited to present on the costs of violence against women and girls at the Global Summit on Ending Violence Against Women in Istanbul held on 9th and 10th of December 2015. The Summit, organised by UN Women in partnership with the Government of Turkey, was the penultimate event of the Beijing 20+ review in 2015 as well as the end of the 16 Days of Activism. Dr. Duvvury spoke on the need for rigorous estimates of the impacts of violence against women as well as robust estimates of the required resources for a comprehensive response to end violence against women.

Component THree at IAFFE 2016

The International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) will hold its 25th Annual Conference at NUI, Galway 24-26 June 2016. The Annual Conference brings together key policy makers particularly from multi-lateral organisations and UN agencies, academics, advocates and activists. The theme of the conference is Transitions and Transformations in Gender Equality, providing a provide umbrella to showcase What Works research. The call for papers is here.

Panel on Gender, Inequality and Political Violence at ECPR General Conference 2016

Stacey Scriver and Jennifer McCleary-Sills of Component Three are building on the momentum of research through the What Works Programme by chairing a panel on Gender, Inequality and Political Violence at the European Consortium on Political Research General Conference in Prague, Sept. 7-10, 2016. The panel aims to interrogate the concept of political violence through a gendered lens. The call for papers is open until the 1st of February 2016. Further information is available by contacting:

Component Three at the What Works Scientific Meeting 2015

Nata Duvvury, Component Three Principal Investigator, Stacey Scriver, Post-Doctoral Researcher and Jennifer McCleary-Sills, Co-PI at ICRW, participated in the What Works Scientific Meeting in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in September 2015. Component Three presented their conceptual framework which traces the pathways through which the social and economic impacts of VAWG ripple through economy and society, resulting in losses to the national economy.

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Twitter: @WhatWorksVAWG


What Works: VAWG in Conflict and Humanitarian Settings

What Works: Economic and Social Costs of VAWG


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