Learning in context

Communicating research about ending violence against women and girls

By 15 May 2017

Communicating academic research and programmatic findings about ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) is an area of development communications which warrants particular sensitivity and appreciation of context. The research topic can be highly politicised and influenced by wider social norms about the role of women, meaning that communications efforts have to be adapted and nuanced in relation to the specific policy context.

A number of obstacles to translating research into policy on gender-based violence are outlined by Jo Spangaro in the journal Evidence to Policy (pay walled). These obstacles include: the mismatched policy versus research cycles and the need to explain both qualitative and practitioner-generated evidence, as well as presenting policymaker-friendly ‘killer facts’.

Here at R2A we have gathered examples of innovative communications around ending VAWG, as well as open access guides, articles, and evaluations of communications interventions into a reading list on the topic.

1. The ‘16 Days of activism’ campaign which runs each year between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on the 25 November and International Human Rights Day on the 10 December is a good example of a global campaign with cohesive messaging from the grassroots level up to international organisations. The campaign, which began in 1991, uses the slogan ‘Orange the world’. The UN Women website gives an overview of recent themes and activities.

2.  The Communications X-Change holds an annual competition aiming to highlight what works to end VAWG. The website covers a diverse range of previous award winners, providing inspiration and showcasing a range of different campaign and communications tools.

3. The WEvolve initiative funded by the World Bank uses digital media and creative communications techniques to try to understand and challenge norms around gender violence.

4. The UN Women Virtual Knowledge Centre to end VAWG has a range of useful programming modules available online, one of which covers campaigns. The module covers strategic planning for research-based campaigns through to monitoring and evaluation, giving examples of best practice and suggesting further resources.

5. The Communication Initiative Network have collected a series of useful resources and further reading about VAWG in their email bulletins. Examples include: Gender-Based Violence Communication; Communication to Address Violence against Women and Girls; Addressing Gender-Based Violence through Media and Communication; and Entertainment–Education to End Violence Against Women.

6. The Sexual Violence Research Initiative hosted by the South African Medical Council lists a range of reports and academic articles about disseminating research and promoting research uptake.

7. DFID provides ‘How To’ guidance notes for VAWG programmes about putting together a Theory of Change and Monitoring and Evaluation.

8. The DFID-funded ‘What Works to Prevent Violence’ programme conducted a stakeholder survey in 2014 asking about the best ways to communicate programme findings to key stakeholders, the results of which are fully accessible and free to download.

9. Rachel Marcus at ODI conducted a systematic review about ‘Changing discriminatory norms affecting adolescent girls through communications activities’. The summary document provides a range of interesting findings about which interventions and tactics optimised outcomes, finding that there is a gap in the literature which could be remedied by investigating how communications messages are successfully framed to change norms.

10. Evaluations provide useful tips and findings about how to nuance future communications efforts to end VAWG. Publicly available evaluations include the review of Oxfam’s ‘We Can’ Campaign in South Asia between 2004–11, a synthesis of learning from Amnesty’s campaign to stop violence against women 2004–10, and also the ICAI review of DFID’s efforts to eliminate VAWG.

This resource list is intended to be dynamic. We welcome your input and any suggested resources in the comment section below or, alternatively, you can tweet them to us via @Research2Action.