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Duniya Mike

Duniya Mike, is 25 years and lives in Chindungwa village in the Salima District. She has three children, one boy and two girls aged between six months and seven years. She married her husband Mike in 2007. Duniya describes that period as one of hardest moments in her life: “He was hitting me, and when he had money he spent that money on other ladies. During my first pregnancy, I told him we should go to the hospital together for a HIV test but he refused and was very angry with me.”

In 2011, MIAA (Malawi Interfaith Aids Association) with Trócaire support, implemented a program called “Tiyeni Tisinthe, Together Let’s Change”, in Salima. The programe aims to reduce women’s vulnerability to HIV infection through gender transformative interventions and the elimination and modification of harmful cultural and religious practices. Mike was approached in 2012 to participate in training on gender and HIV. Within a few months of his attendance, Duniya began to notice real changes. “When he came from the training, he shared with me what he had learnt there. He doesn’t hit me anymore, he is a different man. Before, he would spend all the money with other girls but now he brings the money home and we sit together to make a proper budget.

“Nowadays, I am a happy woman. He helps me at home because with 3 children is not easy. I feel he is the man I fall in love. I have him back, thanks to MIAA.”

  •  This case study was prepared as part of the Gallery Exhibition to commemorate the visit of the President of the Republic of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins to Malawi in November 2014, and later to coincide with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV on November the 25th, 2014.
  • Pictures taken by: Chipiliro Khonje.

Ezinta Mzoze

Ezinta Mzoze lives in Mpopela in the Salima District. She is unsure when she was born. Ezinta is a farmer with 4 children, two girls and two boys. She never attended school.

Ezinta married her husband Grevinson in 1989 but immediately experienced problems. She says: “My husband preferred beer to me most of the time.” Rather than financially supporting his family, he spent all their money getting drunk. He was extremely violent, frequently beating Ezinta. In 2013 Grevinson was invited to take part in a program called ‘Let’s Change Together’ implemented in Salima District by Malawi Interfaith Aids Association with Trócaire support. The program trains men to conduct peer outreach education on gender and HIV; Grevinson is now a male motivator promoting the rights of women and girls in the surrounding areas.

Ezinta says “I’m proud of him. He’s changed completely. He has stopped beating me, he’s stopped drinking: We now grow our crops together, he gives me money to buy all the things I need for the house”

During her last pregnancy Grevinson accompanied her on all her pre natal visits and they found out their HIV status. They now both counsel and support others to live positively with HIV.

Eliza says “ I want to continue to walk side by side with my husband this makes me happy. I want more people to benefit from this intervention, many women live in hell as I did, but their lives can too change for the better.”



  •  This case study was prepared as part of the Gallery Exhibition to commemorate the visit of the President of the Republic of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins to Malawi in November 2014, and later to coincide with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV on November the 25th, 2014.
  • Pictures taken by: Chipiliro Khonje.
  Duniya M’bwana from Nysanguzu village, in the Salima district.

Duniya M’bwana

Duniya M’bwana lives in Nysanguzu village, in the Salima district. She is unsure of her age, her mother died on the same day she was born. She is married with 5 children and one grandchild. Duniya is a subsistence farmer. She married in 1998 but her husband never cared or supported her. She struggled financially to provide food for her children.

Duniya tells us that her relationship with her husband was difficult, “we worked together in the fields, but the only noise was the birds singing and the sound of our hoes tilling the earth. He would come home, and eat his own food whilst I ate with my children in another room. We were together but living separate lives.”

Duniya’s husband twice left his family for South Africa to have a better life, and earn money, both times he returned with no money, or gifts for his children. She was very disappointed but could not speak out as she was afraid of him.

In 2012 Duniya’s husband participated in MIAA and Trócaire Tiyeni Tisinthe project which offered training on Gender and HIV. As a result Duniya says he “learned to be a husband and father, he has apologized for treating me badly, he talks to me and shares his feelings. In turn I do the same. Now, my children are happy because they see their parents happy. Now, he takes care of me and our children. I feel I have someone. I know I am not alone in the world.”

  •  This case study was prepared as part of the Gallery Exhibition to commemorate the visit of the President of the Republic of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins to Malawi in November 2014, and later to coincide with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV on November the 25th, 2014.
  • Pictures taken by: Chipiliro Khonje.
  “Tosha and infant, Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania” Photo by World Vision Ireland

The Health & Social Consequences of GBV

Violence against women and girls has important health and social consequences for survivors themselves as well as for their families and communities. At the very least, it can have serious impacts on the everyday lives of women and girls. GBV hinders their ability to earn a living, access education, and take part in social and political life. It perpetuates poverty and impedes development. This Learning Brief is based on the Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures event to mark International Women’s Day 2012. It outlines key insights, recommendations, and learning from World Health Organization (WHO) research on violence against women (VAW) and from female genital mutilation (FGM) policy and programming developments in Ireland. The event provided an important learning opportunity to recognise the work that has been done in relation to VAW and to reflect on future priorities in this field.

Key Research Findings on VAW: Consequences, Prevention, and Response

  • It is a worldwide human rights and health issue. Research suggests that nearly one out of every three women globally has experienced psychological, physical or sexual partner violence during their lifetime.
  • There are fatal and non-fatal outcomes and international research shows serious inter-generational health, social and economic consequences for individuals, families and communities.
  • It is rooted in inequality. Rigid gender roles create risk, and social and cultural gender norms reinforce the problem.
  • It can be prevented. Secondary education and increased socioeconomic status make a difference. Prevention initiatives must focus on changing harmful gender attitudes. Interventions must address individuals, couples and families, communities and the state. It is important not to focus solely on women and girls: men and boys must be involved.
  • Prevention and response must improve: VAW is a complex area and demands an integrated response from all the different sectors involved, including health, legal, education and economic support services.

Preventing VAW – Interventions work best when they:

  • Are designed to work at national, community, home and individual levels.
  • Empower women with finance, gender and relationships training and use school-based programmes to prevent dating violence.
  • Transform harmful gender norms at school and community level.
  • Engage men and boys in order to change attitudes and behaviour.
  • Bring about legal and policy change within a country.

Female Genital Mutilation: Programmes and Policy Progress in Ireland

Female genital mutilation means the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is generally performed by an individual who has no medical training and does not use anesthetics or antiseptics. This can lead to serious physical and mental health consequences. The World Health Organisation estimates that globally 100 to 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.

FGM has been documented in 28 African countries. It is a serious yet relatively new issue within the Irish context, as increasing numbers of people have emigrated from African countries to Ireland over the past decade. Many migrant women living in Ireland feel pressured into having an FGM ceremony performed on their daughters. After sustained work by campaigners, the Oireachtas passed the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act in 2012. This Act specifically criminalizes performance of FGM on any woman or child residing in Ireland. It also criminalises the act of taking a woman or child out of Ireland with the intent of having FGM performed elsewhere. This was significant progress, yet a great deal of work remains to be done in terms of FGM policy and programming in Ireland.

Key learnings and recommendations from the event

Violence against women and girls is a global issue, with complex health and social consequences. Prevention and response programming work has improved and must continue to do so in the future. We should continue to consult survivors to ensure that responses are effective and do no harm. This work requires a multi-sectoral approach with promotion of gender equality at its core.

Given the serious health, intergenerational and socioeconomic costs of violence against women, strengthened work on prevention and response is crucial.

To be effective long-term, policy and programming work must approach VAW from a health and human rights perspective.

Download full learning brief

  "Fighting the fight of the poor in São Paulo". Photo by Christian Aid

Monitoring & Evaluation of GBV Responses

Many countries have a high level of acceptance of gender based violence (GBV) against women and girls, particularly during conflict situations. However, it is also important to tackle GBV targeted at women in post-conflict situations. Sound Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) processes are important to ensure programmes are working; to make improvements; and for greater accountability. Traditionally, M&E has focused more on response outcomes than the impact of prevention activities. We explored this issue at a Gender Based Violence Learning Day in December 2011. This Learning Brief discusses the M&E of GBV prevention initiatives in relatively stable or post-conflict environments.

What is the Monitoring and Evaluation learning cycle?

There has been little investment in quality M&E processes in GBV prevention programmes. As a result, many programmes have limited evidence of their impact. M&E should not be a one-off activity, but must be included at every stage of a programme’s life cycle. A coherent, rigorous M&E process generates learning and supports positive change. Although they take time, money and staff skills, baseline studies have proved to be an excellent investment. Such studies show the nature and extent of local GBV issues and act as an essential reference point for describing and measuring a project’s outcomes and impact. M&E must be included in: programme assessment; strategic planning; design of the framework; implementation across all activities; and evaluation. Standardised definitions of GBV are rarely used. The development of Standard Operating Procedures would make the process easier for everyone, and allow for better data and learnings capture.

How does the Design and Implementation phase work?

The baseline study should crystallize the intervention’s key objectives and strategies; align a discrete number of SMART outcome and impact indicators that explore relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, feasibility and sustainability; and inform the monitoring system. Different methodologies can be used to monitor an intervention. Which is chosen will depend on a number of factors, such as the size and scale of the GBV project; the budget; and whether or not the M&E will be done in-house. If M&E is being outsourced, undertaking a capacity assessment of the consultants can save time and money in the future. A variety of M&E methodologies can be used to gather information. These include questionnaires, individual interviews, focus group discussions, opinion polls, and interviews among others.

How does the Evaluation phase work?

The process is geared to help answer key questions, such as:

  • Are we doing what we said we were going to do?
  • Are we achieving what we said we would achieve?
  • Is the project design sound?
  • What elements of the project need to be refined?
  • What, if any, are the unintended consequences of the GBV intervention?
  • Is the activity causing the observed changes?

Using a mix of monitoring and assessment methods helps to build strong data. It helps establish the extent of change delivered by a programme, and facilitates an understanding of how change occurs. Timing is important in evaluation: GBV trends can take a long time to change, so both the organisation and the donor must be committed to an evaluation that goes beyond the timeframe of the intervention itself. It is important to make the clear distinction between short-term increases in reports of GBV and change in long-term social norms. It is common for reporting of

GBV incidences to increase over time due to increases in confidence in the prevention programme, the programme activists, and the referrals it provides. A rise in reported levels of GBV can often be a sign that prevention activities are working.

What key lessons and recommendations can we apply to GBV initiatives?

  • M&E processes are feasible, make a meaningful difference, and can result in enhanced and more responsive programming.
  • M&E must be planned from the outset to be active in the programme cycle.
  • Measuring social change at impact and process levels is challenging but vital.
  • Put protocols in place regarding ethical, safety and confidentiality issues.
  • Use a variety of methodologies and tools appropriate to the context, and don’t lose sight of the importance of gathering economic data.
  • Successful M&E requires time and money.

M&E is part of a bigger picture and GBV activists should acknowledge and celebrate the significant progress that has been made so far. No step that prevents or reduces instances of GBV is too small.

The people skills of those conducting the M&E process are crucial in such a sensitive area as GBV. Investment in recruiting the right teams will pay benefits in the long run.

Download the learning brief

Download the good practice guide

  “Women’s Group Sierra Leone” Photo by ICGBV

Addressing GBV in Post-Conflict & Fragile States: A Case Study of Sierra Leone

Gender Based Violence is a global phenomenon. Many countries have a high level of acceptance of violence against women and girls, particularly during conflict situations. However, there is growing international recognition of the need to tackle GBV, particularly sexual violence, targeted at women in post-conflict situations.

Continue reading

  “Engaging men in gender awareness training, New Delhi”. Photo by World Vision Ireland

Masculinities and GBV

Gender Based Violence is a global phenomenon. Many countries have a high level of acceptance of violence against women and girls. One of the main factors reinforcing the prevalence of GBV is patriarchy, which gives men power over women. Therefore it is of critical importance that men and boys are engaged to end the cycle of GBV. In January 2011 we held a Gender Based Violence Learning Day. This Learning Brief contains information shared in relation to engaging men and boys to address GBV.

Why does it mean, to be ‘a man’?

There is no ‘Universal Man’. Masculinities and behaviours differ across countries, cultures and contexts. Gender is associated with power, and being a man confers power and often a higher status in society or better income. Power can also mean that one gender assumes a lesser role than the other. Masculinity can mean behaving in a particular way because of assumptions as to how ‘real men’ act, and a rejection of alternative masculinities (eg homosexuality). Not all masculinities are equal, and men with lower incomes often see themselves as having less power. Different social, economic and cultural interpretations of masculinity and rigid gender norms that link masculinity with power over women continue to be a significant factor in leading men to engage in gender based violence.

What factors did IMAGES identify as contributing to GBV?

The International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) was conducted by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and Instituto Promundo, and distributed internationally in 2010 to more than 8,000 men and 3,500 women aged between 18-59. In relation to GBV, it identified a number of contributory factors:

  • Childhood Experience of Violence: The link between witnessing and experiencing violence and using it with partners is significant. IMAGES found that the incidence of men who perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) was 19-32% higher among those who had witnessed their father beat their mother in childhood.
  • Economic and Work Stress: The role of men as providers is a universal norm and work is core to an understanding of Unemployment, low income or lack of status in the workplace can fuel low self-esteem and a sense of failure as a provider. Feelings of inadequacy can lead men and boys to turn to substance abuse, migration, depression and dangerous sexual behaviours. GBV can become a demonstration or reassertion of male power in order to re-establish status.
  • Masculinities and Conflict: When societies are in conflict, women become far more vulnerable to GBV. Armed groups prey on men and boys to get involved in violence, especially those unable to fulfill their socially prescribed role of When conflict is over, men can find it difficult to unlearn these violent behaviours.
  • Attitudes to Gender Equality: This hugely affects the acceptability of GBV. IMAGES found that men with higher educational attainment and married men had more equitable attitudes, and unmarried men the least. To achieve equality, the gender norms that both men and women learn and internalise must change.
  • Alcohol abuse: IMAGES found that men’s alcohol abuse is much higher than that of women. Men with more gender inequitable attitudes are more likely to abuse alcohol. Alcohol is a significant factor contributing to increased levels of GBV.

What lessons can we learn from anti-GBV practitioners?

  • Women have not achieved equality in any country. It is vital not to lose sight of women’s inequality, even in programmes designed to engage men and boys.
  • Focus on human rights as an entry point to discussing GBV. One-third of women experience physical violence from a partner during their lifetime. This suggests that though the vast majority of men are not violent, the majority are silent.
  • Engage with men on the basis of their own relationships with women.
  • Work with men to help them develop alternative male identities.
  • Engage with men about their emotional response towards GBV.
  • Include men in the development of programmes and approaches.
  • Promote education: educated men are more likely to have gender equitable attitudes. Girls with secondary education are less vulnerable to sexual violence.
  • Work with a community to create sanctions for perpetrators of GBV.
  • Forge links between local programmes and policy level.

Gender roles that limit women are being constantly reinforced. It is vital to engage men in a positive way in order to change this.

GBV is a complex issue. Programmes to combat it must move beyond simplistic images of men beating women and into a more nuanced, supported arena.

Download full learning brief

  “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.

Download full learning brief

  “Community Conversations at Mamandor Community, Tonkolili” Photo by Concern

Community approach to GBV

The work of the Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence is generally focused on humanitarian response: less has been done about the prevalence of GBV in more stable environments. Many countries have a high level of acceptance of violence against women and girls. Those experiencing it have little or no support or services available to them. To discuss this, in June 2009 we held an event called Gender Based Violence Learning Day: Effective Responses to GBV. Continue reading