Cooperative For Assistance And Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE)

PowerUp: Eliminating Violence Against Women in Africa’s Great Lakes Highly Ranked

Lead Organization

Cooperative For Assistance And Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE)

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

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Project Summary

Never before has the world been so united in rejecting violence against women. Yet, even as #metoo and #timesup galvanize global commitment and the evidence of what works grows, progress remains elusive for women across Sub-Saharan Africa. CARE’s PowerUp program will change that, engaging 13 million people across Africa’s Great Lakes region, enabling millions of women and girls to live lives free from domestic violence and accelerating regional momentum. The program’s unique power comes from advancing women’s economic empowerment through sustainable, self-replicating savings groups while also engaging couples and communities in activism that rejects violence against women and girls. Already proven to reduce rates of violence by 55% in Rwanda, PowerUp will scale this approach by activating CARE’s existing regional network of 2.2 million savings group members, leverage media and technology to empower local change agents, partner with world-class non-profits and work with public and private initiatives to institutionalize change.

Problem Statement

Violence by an intimate partner is the most common form of VAWG globally. Across the African Great Lakes (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda), 37-52% of all women have experienced VAW by an intimate partner. Driven by a combination of norms that subordinate the rights of women to those of men, a lack of women’s economic opportunity and the normalization of violence; rates of VAWG are exacerbated by conflict and displacement. The impacts are lifelong and far-reaching. Women who survive violence are twice as likely to have an abortion and nearly twice as likely to experience depression. Fifty percent of children who witness violence in their homes will go on to perpetrate or experience violence later in life Eradicating. VAWG can enable women and girls to live lives of dignity and safety while delivering broader social and economic benefits. Growing evidence demonstrates that change is possible. But change requires multi-pronged approaches that increase women’s financial independence while also helping families and communities to examine the role of violence in their lives and support them to eliminate it. The greatest barrier to scaling proven solutions has been a focus either on only one dimension of the problem (e.g. financial inclusion) or delivering comprehensive solutions that lack the institutional environment or cost-effectiveness to grow. The African Great Lakes is poised to overcome these challenges, with an ideal combination of proven solutions, political will and institutional capacity. Success, however, will require focused investment and the activation of communities across the region.

Solution Overview

PowerUp will reduce VAWG by 35% and impact 13 million people across Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, delivering change for individuals, households, and communities. To achieve this, PowerUp starts by forming or engaging existing Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). These informal groups of 15-20 members meet regularly to save, borrow and invest together, providing vulnerable women with previously unattainable opportunities to build assets and income. Via female financial agents, VSLAs are coupled with access to formal finance, deepening women’s control over resources. In parallel, and critically, PowerUp engages participant households with a proven curriculum that helps them reflect on their life goals and gender inequalities in their relationships, commit to more equitable behaviors and eliminate VAWG in the homes. This combination ensures women can pursue economic opportunities without increasing their risk of experiencing violence. Building on these individual and household foundations, gains are accelerated through SASA! community activists. Nominated by VSLAs and community members, SASA! activists organize regular actions to reduce the acceptance of VAWG. CARE’s work in Rwanda has shown this approach can reduce VAWG by up to 55% over three years. To deliver Power Up, CARE will engage our network of 2.2M VSLA members across Africa’s Great Lakes; leverage media and technology to foster a region-wide movement for change; and deliver intensive interventions targeting the most vulnerable. Working in synergy with public and private investments will ensure change is institutionalized. We will know we are making progress based on clearly-defined engagement milestones.

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Project Funders

  • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) 2013 - 2016
  • Department for International Development (DFID) 2014 - 2018
  • Global Affairs Canada (GAC) 2018 - 2020

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