From evidence to action: focus on gender-based violence

On International Women’s Day in 2018, Equal Measures 2030 (EM2030) launched a global survey of gender advocates in order to gather their views on gender equality progress, the use of data and evidence in their work, and their top policy priority issues.

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With responses from 600+ gender advocates across 50 countries, the issue that topped the list of gender equality policy priorities was tackling gender-based violence (GBV), deemed as a top three priority issue by 58% of surveyed advocates.

In EM2030’s work with partner organizations in six focus countries – El Salvador, Colombia, Senegal, Kenya, India, Indonesia – gender-based violence also emerged as a persistent challenge. In all six countries, vastly different contexts in many ways, there is a commonality that gender-based violence is driven by discrimination and social norms that limit a woman’s agency, choice and rights. From high rates of teen pregnancy in El Salvador to high levels of violence in Senegal and Kenya, EM2030’s partners are confronted with the challenges of gender-based violence in their work as they advocate for change.

As we mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, EM2030 seeks to share insights from its Global Advocates Survey on the issue of gender-based violence, highlight known data gaps, reference promising approaches to better measurement and conclude with examples of largely women-led civil society groups who are using evidence to fuel action in their communities.

 

EM2030 survey results show prominence of violence as an issue for advocates

The survey also showed regional differences on gender-based violence as a priority issue: amongst advocates in Latin America, 82% marked gender-based violence as a top priority, compared to 58% of advocates working in Africa.

The results of the EM2030 Global Advocates Survey also demonstrated that advocates have different perspectives of progress on gender equality depending on their region. Respondents from Africa were the most positive about gender equality progress with 53% saying that women and men are more equal than five years ago. Respondents from Latin America and the Caribbean were second most likely to cite positive progress on gender equality (38%).

<Learn more about EM2030’s Global Advocates Survey>

 

GBV-related data gaps: challenges & opportunities

While advocates see tackling gender-based violence as a top priority issue, there are profound data gaps on the issue that must be addressed.

Having better data on the issue is crucial if advocates are to have the ability to push for laws, policies and budgetary commitments to drive the elimination of gender-based violence.  

Priority issues identified by advocates, amongst an array of other findings, has helped to construct the pilot framework for EM2030’s <SDG Gender Index>, a global data and accountability tool that will track the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a gender lens for girls and women until 2030.

The pilot Index currently contains three indicators related to violence: two of which relate to perceptions and social norms that underly the tolerance of violence in societies and one for the number of women murdered as a measure of outcomes of violence (found within SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG 16 on peace, justice and institutions).

 

Critical gender equality issues with insufficient global data

In addition to understanding what priority issues needed to be included in the SDG Gender Index, the views of gender advocates – amongst other key stakeholders – has helped to identify the ‘missing’ but critical policy areas where global data are insufficient to adequately measure cross-country progress towards the gender equality issues within the SDGs.

Though a few GBV-related indicators were included in the <SDG Gender Index>, EM2030 was hindered from covering the issue of gender-based violence as substantially as we would have liked because of a lack of globally comparable timely data on the issue. 

Equal Measures 2030

Given the importance, these are some of the issues we would have included in the Index, if sufficient data were available, including:

  • Prevalence of violence against girls and women (especially intimate-partner violence)
  • Referred cases of sexual violence and gender-based violence against women and children that are investigated and sentenced
  • Assessment of CEDAW implementation
  • Young women and men aged 18-29 years who have experienced sexual violence by age 18
  • Women’s participation in police, security forces and the judiciary

Taken together, these ‘missing’ issues can form part of an advocacy agenda. These are data gaps that need to be filled and that can be filled if gender advocates speak with one voice in calling for more and better gender data.

 

Analysis of data & evidence on GBV

Through the development of our <SDG Gender Index>, as well as the Global Advocates Survey, a few data insights related to gender-based violence emerged:

  • There are still many countries worldwide struggling to report on prevalence figures, such as the proportion of women experiencing violence in their lifetime and over the last 12 months (See the UN SDG database)
  • As more countries report data and trends in violence, it is important to carefully interpret the change. For example, higher prevalence rates of gender-based violence may also be linked to improvements in measurement and changing attitudes towards reporting on such sensitive issues.
  • Going beyond prevalence rates, it is imperative to support ongoing efforts to draw attention to the good practices in policy that aim to reduce levels of violence, as well as the specific barriers that are faced by women in different contexts.
  • There is a growing focus on assessing the impact and cost of gender-based violence on individuals, societies and economies, including physical and mental health issues, as well as social impacts, including learning achievements and work productivity. These efforts provide a more complete picture of the issues and impacts related to violence (See UN Women, McKinsey)

<Learn more about country progress on SDG 5: Gender Equality>

 

How are countries using data and evidence to address GBV?

While we identify challenges and opportunities linked to GBV-related data and evidence, it’s also important to celebrate successes taking place globally to advance change. Here we share success stories from two EM2030 focus countries, Colombia and India:

Plan International / Johanna Spetz

In Colombia, a civil society-led campaign called on judges to educate themselves about gender-based violence and public attorneys and prosecutors to investigate possible femicides in a timely way. The campaign also urged policymakers to learn about protection measures under Law 1257 (2008), police officers to do more to prevent violence, forensic and medical assistance to be improved, and the government to monitor cases under investigation. <Learn more about the gender equality context in Colombia on EM2030’s Gender Advocates Data Hub>

 

Plan International / Apon Ahsan, Equal Measures 2030

In India, while civil society has campaigned on violence against women for many years, there has been a surge in public awareness, mobilization and engagement in recent times, following highly publicized cases of violence against women. In response, the Government of India revised the country’s rape laws (section 375/376 of the Indian Penal Code) to expand the definition of rape to include voyeurism, stalking and acid attack as punishable crimes, amongst other key reforms. <Learn more about the gender equality context in India on EM2030’s Gender Advocates Data Hub>

 

Data driving change. If we work together, it will.

As we enter this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, it is critical that advocates have the data and evidence they need to drive accountability on gender equality.

If your organization has data that tell important stories about girls and women, help us paint a fuller picture, or if you have recently written about or visualized data related to gender-based violence or gender equality more broadly, share your work with us so we can share it with others.

Together, we can measure progress for girls and women to ensure governments deliver on their promises for equality by 2030.


Explore EM2030’s SDG Gender Index by goal, by country or by going straight to the data.


Photos: Plan International/Johanna Spetz, Plan International/Apon Ahsan, Jessica Lomelin/Equal Measures 2030

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