In the midst of the global pandemic, there lies what the UN Secretary General describes as the ‘Invisible Pandemic” – Gender Based Violence, or GBV. The COVID-19 Impact on Women and Girls Policy Brief launched today by the UN notes: “there are already many deeply concerning reports of increased violence against women around the world, with surges being reported in many cases of upwards of 25% in countries with reporting systems in place. In some countries reported cases have doubled.”
Even before COVID-19, GBV affected an estimated 1 in 3 women globally. CARE’s many years of work on the issue reveals that while GBV is tragically common, it does not have to be inevitable. It is possible to support survivors, and to stop GBV. In the words of one person South Sudan, “… now people here know that GBV is dangerous and preventable.”
While we continue to figure out ways to support GBV survivors during a time when people are confined and access to social safety nets is limited, we can build and adapt on CARE’s global work. Between 2015 and 2019, CARE and partners supported 1.9 million women prevent or respond to violence in their lives in 32 countries.
In fiscal year 2019, 255 CARE projects in 63 countries worked to prevent and respond to gender- based violence (GBV) with 10% of projects fully focusing on addressing GBV and a further 51% mainstreaming GBV prevention and response approaches into their activities. These projects reached 6 million people directly and 19.4 million indirectly.
Fewer women experience violence from partners: CARE-supported projects in 9 countries helped 158,018 fewer women experience violence from a partner. In Bangladesh, SHOUHARDO II contributed to 125,462 fewer women to experience IPV. In Uganda’s refugee camps, 20,787 fewer women experienced violence after participating in CARE projects than they did before they got support.
Women experience less violence at home: More than 80,000 people in Rwanda’s Indashyikirwa project are half as likely to face gender based violence at home.
People are less likely to believe gender-based violence is okay: In Niger’s PROMESS II project, more than 207,000 women changed their attitudes and began to reject gender-based violence. Across 18 countries, 558,389 more women rejected intimate partner violence ever being justified by a husband towards their wife or partner.
Women get better access to critical services: In South Sudan, nearly 72,000 women got access to GBV response services in emergencies. In Uganda’s combined refugee response, nearly 270,000 women got protection and support services.
Engaging men and boys as equal partners/family: In Bangladesh, SHOUHARDO II’s engagement of men and boys in women’s empowerment sessions played an important role in reducing violence against women. In Rwanda’s Indashyikirwa project, couples attended weekly sessions over five months, involving facilitated discussions and reflection on topics including power and gender, rights, skills for managing tensions and IPV, the benefits of non-violence and gender equality, and shared decision making.
Establishing and supporting Women- and Girl-Friendly Space/Safe Spaces for Women and Girls in Emergencies: In emergency responses, CARE supports Safe Spaces for Women and Girls. These spaces provide a place for women and girls to speak confidentially about their experiences, needs and concerns, as well as to receive practical assistance and advice, including referral to specialist GBV response services.
Leadership and collective action:
Helping women build skills: Projects help people learn about GBV, rights and relevant laws, as well as helping women build leadership skills.
In Rwanda, Umugore linked community health workers with VSLAs so they could earn additional income and have incentives to carry-out activities related to GBV response.
Get local leaders involved. In Rwanda’s Indashyikirwa project, opinion leaders (coming from a wide range of sectors including justice, police, religious institutions and decentralized authorities) played a key role in creating of an enabling environment to address GBV.
Inclusive and Accountable Institutions:
Partnering with local coalitions and service providers:
In Bangladesh, SHOUHARDO II’s coordination meetings between various stakeholders supported groups in addressing domestic violence issues at community level.
In Rwanda, Umugore Arumvwa coordinated a civil-society platform with 59 NGOs who continue to advocate for including issues of GBV into district planning processes and also conducted 105 Community Scorecard processes to help communities work with service providers to identify problems and make action plans to solve them.
In Nepal’s Safe Justice project, the team got communities and police officers to discuss how to better respond to gender based violence.
Co-creating: Community mobilization and engagement with Government in all countries was an essential part of ownership of the approaches and models supported.
In Myanmar, CARE’s worked with the government and service providers on a Multi-Sectoral model for GBV prevention and response for Urban Women, to improve quality services and increase attention to addressing GBV.
In Rwanda, after training more than 340 people at the community level on the impacts of GBV and the importance of services, Umugore Arumvwa helped communities set up clubs that could support survivors.
Want to learn more?
Check out CARE’s Gender Primer for more guidance on promising practices to prevent GBV.
See evaluation reports on: SHOHARDO II; Umugore Arumvwa; Improve Access to Safe Employment for Migrant Women in Urban Myanmar. Further information on CARE’s work to tackle Gender Based Violence is available on CARE’s Insights In Practice: Ending Gender-based Violence GBV and CARE USA, CARE UK and CARE Australia’s websites.