What Works Newsletter

International Women's Day 2017

What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls (What Works) is a DFID-funded £25 million global research and innovation programme aimed at building knowledge on ways to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The What Works programme is divided into three interrelated components:

1. What Works: The Global Programmme

2. What Works: Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in Conflict and Humanitarian Crises

3. What Works: Economic and Social Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

For more information on all the What Works components:
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What Works in celebration of International Women’s Day 2017

For 109 years, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been uniting global communities to celebrate women and ensure their safety and equality. As the world pauses to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) today, March 8th 2017, we seize the opportunity to reflect on the work being done to support the health and well-being of women around the world. 

This year the IWD campaign takes a further step in calling for global attention and action through their 2017 theme, #BeBoldForChange. Our mission is to understand what drives violence against women and girls to understand how to prevent it, and in doing so is driving the IWD agenda. What Works is a global programme, equipped with local teams to deliver violence prevention programmes with local impact; in countries within the African, Central Asian, Middle Eastern and North African regions.

Please join us in supporting International Women’s Day today and beyond and #BeBoldForChange for a more inclusive, gender equal world.

Some of the What Works people and projects marking #IWD2017

In keeping with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day #BeBoldForChange, Indashyikirwa, meaning ‘agents of change’ in Kinyarwanda, is a programme that seeks to support social norm and community level change to prevent and reduce violence among intimate partners in rural Rwanda. The programme is being implemented by Care International Rwanda together with the Rwanda Women’s Network (RWN) and Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC). CARE’s village savings and loans associations (VSLAs) encourage savings through informal groups that depend on member savings for their capital. These associations have widely benefitted the rural poor. However, CARE Rwanda’s assessment of their micro finance village savings and loans associations (VSLAs) found that inequitable gender relations constrained women’s ability to fully benefit from the VSLAs. In many cases men were controlling the function of the VSL groups and money, and many women did not feel confident to make decisions about a loan without their husband’s approval. Indashyikirwa used CARE’s VSLAs as an entry point for a 20-session gender transformative curriculum implemented with 840 couples, which aimed to equip couples with skills to identify and manage triggers of IPV and build healthy, equitable relationships. Partners of couples and facilitators were interviewed after their completion of the curriculum and offered positive assessments of the relevance and participatory approach, and strongly appreciated the emphasis on balancing power within their relationship, and the rare opportunity to be trained together.

Community activism
Approximately 25% of the 1680 individuals that completed the curriculum received further training by RWAMREC staff to become community activists to diffuse the positive uses of power and benefits of non-violent relationships in their communities. The community activism draws on adaptations from the SASA! programme in Uganda with its emphasis on negative and positive types and uses of power, and its support of community members to engage in gender equality activism.

Enabling environment
RWN is leading the creation of an “enabling environment” for community level transformation through training and advocacy with opinion leaders to better prevent and respond to IPV, the creation of drop-in women’s safe spaces to provide support, networking and resources for women, and additional coordinated advocacy and support for the activists.
The intention is that having a core cadre of couples who have undergone a deeply personal process of transformation and facilitated diffusion of innovation within a community-level enabling environment will positively transform the attitudes, practices and social norms that underlie harmful gender norms and IPV as well as increase support for women experiencing such violence within targeted communities.
Indashyikirwa is currently undergoing a process and impact evaluation to assess its ability to reduce intimate partner violence and lead to more equitable,
violence free relationships among couples. The evaluation will also assess the degree to which community mobilisation at the village level by trained activists can decrease the acceptability of violence against women, promote more equitable gender attitudes, increase women’s disclosure of violence, and encourage individual and community actions to prevent violence against women. The baseline and midline data collection has been completed and the endline data collection is expected to be finished by early 2018.
HERProject launches 10th anniversary communications campaign on #IWD2017
Business For Social Responsibility’s HERproject is a collaborative initiative that strives to empower low-income women working in global supply chains. Bringing together global brands, their suppliers, and local NGOs, HERproject drives impact for women and business via workplace-based interventions on health, financial inclusion, and gender equality. HERrespect, one of the three strands of HERproject, specifically tackles violence against women by addressing the root causes of violence in the workplace.
Over the last 10 years, HERproject has seen incredible growth and impact, and now, on its 10th Anniversary, it is urging its partners to make a collective declaration of their joint commitment to women’s empowerment and of their plans for accelerating their impact in the years to come. For International Women’s Day HERproject is calling for customers, partners, stakeholders, and staff to take part in their communications campaign and encourage them to:
  • Celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • Declare bold actions you'll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda, because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world 
VSO Nepal’s One Community One Family organizes flash mob on #IWD2017
VSO Nepal joins the Beyond Beijing Committee (a Nepalese women’s network organization) for a flash mob taking place today to raise awareness about Sustainable Development Goal No 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. They are also joining Bhimpokhara Youth Club, their partner on the One Community One Family project, to run a dedicated programme on VAWG to support survivors in the Baglung District. The participants are community men, women, teenagers and village district level government stakeholders. The programme will culminate in an engaging quiz contest about women’s empowerment and rights.
Ma’an Network holds open day for #IWD2017
The Ma’an Network, which works with local women’s organisations to implement the first ever national multi-component media campaign on the prevention of violence against women and girls in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, is holding its very own “open day” in support of #IWD2017. All day, only female presenters, correspondents, and guests are being featured on air. Additionally, the day’s television programming is focusing on success stories suggested by SAB partner organizations, for example highlighting the struggles of female Bedouins and interviewing young feminist activists in the Old City of Hebron, a particularly tense area of the OPT.
The only interview which is being carried out with a man is with Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Minister of Religious Affairs, who is making a large announcement regarding a new legal reform for women’s rights.
These activities build upon the solid partnerships that Ma’an Network has formed with different women’s rights organisations and provide increasing media coverage and attention to different women’s rights actors in the OPT, to a large national audience.
Equal Access’s Change Starts at Home in celebration of #IWD2017
To mark International Women’s Day, the Change Starts at Home project are sharing stories of change from two couples who attend our weekly listening and discussion group meetings. These stories celebrate how the lives and experiences of women and men (and their children) can be transformed when we focus on respect, good communication and mutual understanding in a marriage.  
Asharam and
Bikani Mahato
“When I think about things from the past, I know that if it weren’t for my wife, then my home would have been destroyed. My wife endured everything in the hopes that I would change, and now we have a good relationship” (Asharam Mahato)
Asharam and
Bikani Mahato have been married for over 10years and have two daughters. Previously they had a very unhappy marriage and Ashram would drink, gamble and abuse his wife and children. 
The Change Starts at Home programme came into their lives just at the right time when Asharam wanted to change himself for the better but did not know how. The radio listening and discussion meetings each week were like
counseling session to Asharam, while for Bikani, they helped her to empathize with her husband and gave her the confidence and skills to start having conversations with him about how his behavior.  The couple consider that 'the change project' saved their marriage and brought back the happiness they always wanted in their lives. Follow their story here

Menuka Bhandari and Tulsi Bhandari
“Before listening to the programme we feared talking to our spouses about sexual matters…we were not able to tell our husbands about our wants and wishes…but now this has changed, we talk about it….” (
Menuka Bhandari)

Menuka Bhandari lives with her husband Tulsi and her mother in law. They have twin daughters who are 9 years old. Menuka is a teacher in a nearby school while her husband Tulsi is a migrant returnee who now works as a land broker.

Menuka, an educated person, considered programmes like Change Starts at Home (Change) more appropriate for illiterate or less educated families. She thought she was aware of all aspects of family and married life, until she actually participated in a Change listening and discussion session. Menuka was brought up to believe that women should be ready for sex with their husband, regardless of their wish and should not talk about sexual matters.  The Change program helped her and her husband start talking more opening about sex, now it is a mutual decision between them that both consent to.
After the couple enrolled themselves in the CHANGE programme, they say they have found happiness. Now Tulsi helps
Menuka in household chores and always ensures her say in small or big family decisions. Follow their story here
Raising awareness of sexual violence against women and girls

To mark this year’s IWD SDDirect has partnered with film director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle for a private screening of ‘Sands of Silence’. The film shows how difficult it is for women and girls to speak out about sexual abuse in all its forms and how feelings of shame run very deep in cultures all over the world. The picture is of particular relevance to SDDirect’s work on gender-based violence (GBV), one of our long-standing specialisms and a major part of our portfolio.

SDDirect, a partner in the “What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls Global Programme” is proud to support the campaign #BeBoldForChange being our mission to combat social exclusion and bring transformative change to improve the prospects of the most marginalised people.

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