“Selling food Tangail,Bangladesh” Photo by Christian Aid Ireland

Millennium Development Goal 1 (Poverty & Hunger)

What is Millennium Goal 1?

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions, in order to meet the needs of the poorest and least developed countries. MDG 1 is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, by:

  • Halving, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day; and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
  • Achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all.

What is the relationship between poverty, GBV and MDG 1?

According to the World Health Organisation, GBV affects one in three women globally. Despite its close links to poverty, to date GBV programmes have tended to focus on health and legal issues rather than food security. Deep-rooted gender inequalities in the distribution of power, resources and responsibilities are creating a spiral of poverty, GBV and food insecurity. Alongside the global rise in food prices and the debt crisis, this is putting the achievement of MDG 1 under severe pressure.

How does GBV impact on…

  • Household food security: Where it is the woman’s role to provide food, GBV creates a loss of productivity. Violence often results in direct costs to access health or legal services. Using money in this way means less for food.
  • Education and work: Violence leads to lower productivity, absenteeism, lower levels of education, and often lower earnings by survivors of violence.
  • Health: The physical and mental health issues some women experience as a result of GBV can have a serious negative impact on their ability to work. GBV is risk factor for HIV, which also impacts on household food security.
  • Carer roles: It affects the capacity to care for children, the sick and the elderly.
  • Land rights: Widows or those negotiating rights and access can be at risk of GBV.

What can we learn from case studies?

IMAGE Programme, South Africa: This programme showed how a combination of microfinance and training interventions can reduce levels of GBV and the risk of HIV and AIDS. Topics covered included gender roles, cultural beliefs, relationships, communication, GBV, and HIV. It aimed to strengthen communication skills, critical thinking, and leadership. It encouraged wider community mobilisation to engage young people and men, and used creative ways to engage chiefs and leaders. After two years instances of GBV were reduced by 55%. This inclusive, holistic approach shows how possible it is to make a difference for the most vulnerable groups.

Farmer Field Schools, Northern Uganda: Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to focus on production, financial and life skills in the short and medium term. In a neutral setting, men and women can discuss and design programmes as peers. GBV is introduced as one of a number of special topics that affect households, rather than discussed as a single issue. This project made a positive difference in the areas of social, human, financial and physical capital. It demonstrated that food and income security have a direct impact on reducing the contributory factors that cause GBV.

Women’s Support Association, Ethiopia: This both prevented and responded to GBV using a number of key strategies. The programme worked with both men and women at national, community, small-group and self-help level. It used community mobilization to promote behavioural change, which resulted in positive social, economic and political impacts. Integrating education, empowering women, and engaging men in planning and implementation were key to this project’s success.

What key GBV lessons can we learn from such programmes?

  • GBV can’t be treated in isolation. The risk environment for GBV, HIV, poverty and hunger are similar. Considering GBV in the strategies to address these are effective.
  • Engaging men is critical.
  • Organizations must combine skills and create platforms where multi-disciplinary groups can come together.
  • Greater coordination of overall funding structures is necessary.
  • Research and evaluation continues to be important.

What are some entry points for breaking the downward cycle of poverty and GBV?

  • There can be resistance to using GBV as an entry point. Focusing on livelihoods can be the best place to start.
  • Linking GBV to HIV is an important programming and funding opportunity.
  • Be pro-active. Use the school curriculum, for example. Music can be used to encourage discussion about masculinity power dynamics.
  • Programme design should be flexible.
  • Advocacy is necessary on the ground as well as countrywide and internationally.

How can we measure and monitor impact where multiple actors are involved?

  • Indicators must be reasonable and not overly focused on one area.
  • Impact on GBV should be measured against and across all the disciplines involved.
  • It is important to use both qualitative as well as quantitative information.
  • Encourage people to tell their stories and determine their own progress.
  • Measure progress at different stages using a range of tools and indicators.

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