Working to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence in Communities Around the World
During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the world shines a spotlight on the tools essential for preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). This issue is particularly poignant during the COVID-19 pandemic, when reports indicate an increase in SGBV, stemming from economic insecurity, reduced mobility, and millions of people being stuck at home, many in unsafe environments.
EngenderHealth’s SGBV work is rooted in our holistic approach to everything we do. We work to bring SGBV information into our sexual and reproductive health programs wherever possible, including supporting healthcare providers with the information they need to prevent and respond to GBV, assisting local partners to reach communities with SGBV information, working with communities to transform norms, and supporting governments and institutions as they build systems to reduce and respond to GBV.
The theme color for the 16 Days of Activism campaign is orange. Each year, we stand with partners around the world in the call to “Orange the World.” Below, we have shared a few snapshots of EngenderHealth’s work on GBV, illustrating the many ways we work to take on this important issue. We are part of a movement, and we believe that with collective action we can eliminate GBV in communities around the world.
In Côte d’Ivoire, we have integrated GBV prevention and response into a wide variety of interventions and community activations. As the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increases in GBV, we have found new ways to address this issue. EngenderHealth partnered in a program to distribute GBV awareness and prevention information as part of a public campaign to provide one million masks to Ivorians in the greatest need. We also supported a local feminist organization (La Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits des Femmes) to assist 50 GBV survivors with medication, sexual and reproductive health services and counseling, legal consultation, and psychological counseling.
With support from the U.S. Department of State, EngenderHealth ran the Essential Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Prevention and Services Project in Malawi for two years, with the overall goal of decreasing the incidence of GBV and increasing the coordination of GBV response across sectors. Among the many accomplishments of this program, we supported the development of court guidelines for managing GBV cases, oriented dozens of judiciary staff on GBV, and increased accessibility of judicial services by bringing them to communities through mobile courts. We targeted root causes of GBV by supporting community facilitators in addressing harmful traditional practices, working with 87 communities that resolved to eliminate harmful traditional practices, engaging with men and boys to promote positive masculinity, and providing vocational training to women and out-of-school girls.
EngenderHealth programs in Burundi have supported nearly 50 health facilities to provide gender-sensitive, non-judgmental, and integrated services for GBV survivors. We helped ensure care for more than 1,200 survivors of sexual violence and physical violence and contributed to the development of major policies and guidelines for an integrated GBV response at the national level. Today, we are working with our local partner, SWAA-Burundi, to transfer technical expertise in gender- and youth-sensitive GBV services, because we know that empowering local organizations promotes sustainable change.
COVID-19 shutdowns in India forced rapid and dramatic changes across all aspects of life. The EngenderHealth team responded quickly, including developing new outreach mechanisms to connect with healthcare providers and community health workers by phone and through popular messaging services, such as WhatsApp, to be sure they were up to date on the latest pandemic-related information. The outreach was also an opportunity to ensure SRHR issues were top-of-mind for these essential health workers, and that they had current and accurate information related to topics such as contraceptive services, GBV, and adolescent health. Through these efforts, we reached more than 12,000 community health workers, known as ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists), to provide the information to help manage rising GBV cases.
National policies and norms are essential for responding to and reducing the number of individual GBV cases. In Tanzania, EngenderHealth was proud to provide support to the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children in the recent development of the National Policy Guideline for Health Sector Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence and Violence against Children (VAC).