Browse by Theme: Intimate Partner Violence

“He always came home late and drunk and he often kicked the door open while hurling insults at me and the children. I became such a miserable person.... After a number of curriculum sessions, I started to notice a change of heart in my husband, he started taking responsibility for the family needs.... He even went ahead to open up a joint account for us.” (Quote by a project participant – but not from Olive who is pictured above.) Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common form of violence against women and girls – but our Indashyikirwa project in Rwanda proved there are ways to change this: by supporting couples to build healthier, more equitable relationships, and by helping communities to challenge and address the values which normalise violence.

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We can’t achieve women’s financial inclusion without considering harmful social norms and trying to change them. This was the key message I shared during the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) annual Savings and Credit Forum in Bern earlier this month. The forum’s theme was ‘how to reach 1 billion women’ and I was there on behalf of CARE International UK and the CGAP Women’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice to speak about how gendered social norms create barriers to women’s financial inclusion, and how to change them.

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More than one in three women worldwide (35%) experiences physical or sexual violence in her lifetime; in some countries, the prevalence is as high as 70%. Gender based violence (GBV) is one of the most widespread and damaging violations of human rights in the world, but we’re starting to see some real progress in our efforts to promote a right to a “Life free from violence”.

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Research shows that addressing intimate partner violence (IPV) requires working at society, community, household and individual levels to promote relationships built on respect, equality and peace. This blog shares the emerging learnings of working specifically with couples to address IPV in the context of Rwanda and speaks to the findings of the qualitative research conducted by Dr Erin Stern from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (read more in this article by Dr Erin Stern and Ritha Nyiratunga).

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Preventing intimate partner violence (IPV) won’t happen overnight. It requires a lengthy process of social change, and achieving that requires both time and funding investment.

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“Two God’s heads cannot fit in the same pot” says a Rwandan idiom used to justify why women cannot head households. The words we use to describe and talk about gender and violence matter. And yet, when it comes to designing research questionnaires or interventions, the power of language can be forgotten, in our haste to get a programme going. But the potential for real change perhaps lies in the tiny idiosyncrasies of local language, even though it often takes time to uncover such nuances.

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20 years after the Beijing conference the incidence of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) remains outrageously high with one in three women in the world condemned to experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Nevertheless we should recognise and celebrate the progress that has been made, and highlight initiatives that are making a difference.

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