Monash University

Identifying and Preventing Gender-Based Violence in the Indo-Pacific

Abuse prevention

Starting in the massive refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, this project scales up proven approaches to identifying and preventing gender-based violence.

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Project Summary

Gender-based violence (GBV) causes physical, sexual, or psychological harm to women and girls. It inhibits victims from connecting with others, from making plans, being creative, or participating in their communities. At Monash University, we are leading programs in Bangladesh, the Solomon Islands, and Vietnam that identify the prevalence and determinants of GBV and introduce place-based, community training to reduce it. Empowerment and co-design are central to those initiatives. For the proposed project, as with Egypt’s Harrassmap intervention, we will use mobile phones with customised apps to raise community awareness of empowerment strategies. Researchers will work with participants to tackle GBV through culturally-sensitive training initiatives. The customised apps will also support community-led advocacy for broader structural changes. The project will address GBV in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in Indonesia, and the fast-growing urban settlements of Papua New Guinea. Monitoring and evaluation will support continuous program improvement.

Problem Statement

GBV occurs in all nations but prevalence is highest in low- and middle-income countries. This is why the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals include Goal 5, ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. Sub-goal 5.2 calls for elimination of ‘all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation’. Whenever a problem is ubiquitous, it is vital that interventions be delivered where they are expected to have most impact and where lessons from those interventions can inform subsequent initiatives. In this project, we focus on the problem of GBV in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Existing prevalence studies suggest that GBV is widespread within these countries. [1] Research that we have been undertaking at Monash University has assisted us to better understand the nature of the problem. Research shows that structural gender inequality is the most significant risk factor for GBV. [2] When women and girls face economic inequality or are marginalised in their societies, they become far more vulnerable to experiencing GBV. That structural aspect of the problem presents an important point of leverage for delivering solutions [3].

Solution Overview

Addressing GBV is a long-term proposition, but well-targeted actions can yield observable and powerful short-term results. Structural gender inequality fosters a culture conducive to GBV and impunity for its perpetrators. In this project, we conduct three in-country interventions, targeted at whole communities. These are designed to rapidly reduce GBV in target locations and set the conditions for sustained long-term reductions. The solution we propose relies heavily on mobile phones and the co-design of customised apps. Like Monash’s Mood Mission app, our apps will connect users and, in culturally-sensitive ways, raise community awareness of empowerment techniques, as well as offer individualised advice. Building on these app-focused training activities, we will call attention to GBV and promote behaviour change in men and women to reduce it. The processes established will then be used to support community-designed advocacy efforts to promote public policy and institutional changes for the wider community. By taking this three-pronged approach, we seek to lower the medium-term vulnerability of women and girls in specific sites, reduce GBV in those sites, and address broader structural issues that have allowed GBV to occur. Knowledge accumulated through action, monitoring, and evaluation in all three countries will both improve capabilities and effectiveness of the interventions during the course of the project and allow for systematic development of guidelines for implementation of similarly effective efforts in other projects in other sites in the future.

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Project Funders

  • UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

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