Ending sexual violence during and after conflict: Sharing lessons from the Great Lakes Advocacy Initiative

by 29th Nov -0001
Strengthening women's voice: report cover Strengthening women's voice: report cover © CARE

As the world gathers at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, a four-year CARE project addressing gender-based violence in East Africa has shown just what kind of real policy changes can be achieved using joined up advocacy and strong evidence.

CARE’s Great Lakes Advocacy Initiative (GLAI) ran from 2009-2013 in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC with funding from the Norwegian government. CARE has just published a four-page evaluation summary describing the model, the results and some key lessons. What stands out is the importance of gathering the right kind of evidence at the grassroots and then effectively working with partners, women activists and community leaders to bring this evidence to national and global forums similar to the gathering in London.

In GLAI’s case the partners used the UN and IRC’s Information Management System (IMS) to monitor gender-based violence cases at the community level, and worked with women from Village Savings and Loans Associations along with established partners to be voices for change for their communities.

Three examples of change

  • One concrete change was the use of the IMS data to successfully push for a change in the rape reporting form in Uganda to make it easier for women’s assault cases to proceed. 
  • A second was persuading the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to adopt 80% of GLAI activist recommendations into the landmark Kampala declaration, including the call to engage with men to prevent sexual violence, a key ask again in London this week.
  • Likewise, CARE and its partners had all their recommendations included in the outcome document of the 57th Session on the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) in 2013.

These are all impressive achievements, but as CARE writes in its position paper on the London summit, promises are easy to make. Now governments must make good on their commitments by prioritising money and effort in their national action plans to see these recommendations become realities. In satellite events in Kenya and Uganda, CARE and partners will be using new evidence from the ground to remind ICGLR governments how much work is left to do if the Kampala declaration is to live up the high hopes that accompanied its signing.

Another Summit – another opportunity

This week during the Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict summit, CARE will be supporting its partners to speak up on work engaging men and boys in the Balkans and Rwanda, and particularly asking for gender and respect in relationships to be built into the national curricula in all countries attending.

We will be using the GLAI recipe for success: having the right evidence, pooling resources with like-minded groups and partnering with government while holding them to account. Then the hard work of seeing policy changes translate into real change on the ground takes place. As a GLAI activist in the DRC noted: “Because of our advocacy interventions policymakers and local authorities know that the civil society organisations are watching them, they know that there is a group of people that are ready to hold them accountable or ask questions about women’s conditions and GBV.”

Paul-André Wilton

Paul-André was formerly Senior Policy Advisor (Conflict and Humanitarian) for CARE International UK. He led CARE International UK’s policy analysis and advocacy around resilient markets, livelihoods and jobs within the overall humanitarian advocacy area. He also shared responsibility for delivering gender, peace and security humanitarian advocacy on emergencies.

Before CARE he worked for peacebuilding and democratisation organisations, and lived in West and East Africa. Previously he worked in the education sector teaching English for five years to students of all ages in Spain and the UK. He holds an Msc in Global Politics from Birkbeck, University of London.

One good thing I’ve read

I really enjoyed Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson for the fascinating discussion and examples of how fragility and institutions interact over time. I would also recommend The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith as an excellent and necessary sweep through the history since decolonisation and independence on the continent. In one of my first jobs we used to give it to each intern on their departure, as invariably it filled huge gaps in their knowledge, as it had done for me

Twitter: @PA_Wilton