I recently attended the Capacity Building Workshop for the What Works to End Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) programme in South Africa, for which I am an independent research uptake evaluator.
The workshop gathered together the three components of the programme – from all corners of the globe – to facilitate peer learning on a number of topics, including improving media messages and boosting grantees’ confidence with using alternate forms of research communications such as blogging and social media. The lively sessions were hosted by the programme’s technical advisers Rebecca Ladbury PR and the programme’s capacity-building lead Samantha Wilan and research-uptake lead Leanne Ramsoomar.
Communicating research and programme findings about ending VAWG can be particularly tricky given the highly political nature of the research (see the R2A Reading List for resource suggestions about how to tackle this barrier).
A number of the discussions and sessions during the workshop are worth sharing, to more widely learn lessons about what does – and also what does not – work to successfully communicate research about ending VAWG.
What doesn’t work engaging with research stakeholders?
- Confronting politicians; stay calm.
- Reproducing your own opinions; be evidence based.
- Read more about the problems commonly encountered mapping stakeholders and solutions.
What doesn’t work asking a question at an international conference?
- Using the opportunity for self-promotion; add value to the conversation at hand.
- Being argumentative and hostile; be respectful and positive whilst critical.
- Find out more about conquering the conference in this blog post.
What doesn’t work at a media conference?
- Being underprepared and interviewed by a junior member of the team; make a compelling case as to what you are offering them and do your research on the media house to find an angle that appeals.
- Starting with a criticism of how bad media coverage of gender violence is; begin with a reason why you approached the media house and provide an aspect of their coverage that you like.
- Paula Fray has written a great blog post about four questions to ask yourself before engaging with the media.
What doesn’t work meeting with government officials?
- Getting tangled up in an argument about different solutions or stakeholders’ opinions on the problem; arrive with a clear and evidence-based solution to put forward.
- Being too ambitious and presenting a complex solution; keep it simple and take it one step at a time, remembering that policymakers want solutions to the problem at hand.
- Read more about writing actionable policy recommendations in this blog by Nyasha Mysandu.
What doesn’t work meeting with the private sector?
- Being negative; acknowledge the enormity of the problem of VAWG but provide some practical examples of what their involvement could contribute.
- Relying on one contact who might leave the company; ask to meet other interested contacts and be sure to leave behind a business card or a brochure.
- Using exclusionary language; phase out any mention of ‘our issue’ or ‘our community’.
What doesn’t work at an international donor-hosted lunch?
- Assuming the donor knows about your project; perfect your elevator pitch and make sure to explain any jargon, including the term VAWG.
- Getting lost in the noise of others competing for funding; prepare to be assertive and be sure to tailor your presentation to the interests of the donor to stand out.
- Sending someone who is uncomfortable in the situation; ensure that the individual attending is comfortable and prepared for the meeting, and has materials with them that they can leave behind to give more information about the research.