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Cross-cutting strategic priorities

  • The framework presented above is basic, in the sense that it describes a minimum outline for scaling up response capacity from the emergency period through to recovery.  It is important that programmers also bear in mind several cross-cutting priorities that are critical to any strategic efforts to address VAWG. These priorities are closely linked to the core guiding principles for addressing GBV.  (Adapted from USAID, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNIFEM, 2006).

This is for something I did for UNDP—they haven’t published it yet so I don’t have the citation.  I think we can probably remove it if the citation doesn’t come through before this is ready to post.

1. Empower women and support gender equality programming.  The foundation of all promising interventions to address VAWG is attention to gender inequality and an increased understanding of VAWG as a human rights problem that is detrimental to the community as a whole. A programmatic and policy focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment is essential.  However, it is important for VAWG partners to understand that in humanitarian contexts broader gender mainstreaming efforts and VAWG programming are complementary—they are not interchangeable. Gender is a cross-cutting issue that should be maintained on the VAWG agenda as a specific component of VAWG prevention. Other actors—such as the GenCap Advisor, gender theme groups and gender focal points in agencies and organizations—should be responsible for ensuring that the responsibilities of gender mainstreaming--as articulated in the IASC Gender Handbook in Humanitarian Action--are fully realized across all sectors of humanitarian response. To whatever extent possible, VAWG actors should collaborate with gender experts on the ground to ensure that gender and GBV programming efforts are mutually reinforcing.

2. Promote participatory processes that engage all stakeholders. Widespread reform must be instituted from both the top down as well as bottom up. Activities that mobilize citizens of communities and engage leaders in the community and heads of institutions are especially successful in changing attitudes and behaviour. All planning and implementation of VAWG programming must include participatory processes that engage communities, including survivors. Without support from the public sector and/or community leaders, interventions may not be taken seriously, and at times, not fully carried out. It also is important to ensure that strong alliances are formed with community-based organizations, tapping into the wealth of knowledge they have gained working against VAWG. (Also see guiding principles.)

3. Adapt programming to ensure that needs of diverse populations are addressed, particularly those who are most marginalized.  It is critical that programmes take into account the special vulnerabilities of those whose needs are informed by particular contexts (ie. those living in active conflict zones, IDPs, refugees, camp vs. urban settings, returnees, etc.), as well as those who are most disadvantaged and marginalized (for example women with disabilities, adolescents, LBTI women and girls, older women, ethnic or religious minorities, etc.).  All policy and programming efforts should support an analysis of the different contexts and variables that contribute to risks of violence as well as to survivor recovery. (Also see considerations for marginalized populations.)

4.  Utilize vertical as well as mainstreaming approaches to programming. Vertical programming is that which operates relatively independently of other programming and its primary goal is to address VAWG.  Mainstreaming is when VAWG interventions are integrated into other programs that do not focus specifically on VAWG (for example, water and sanitation projects).  Not only is each approach in itself useful, but they are also mutually reinforcing. Vertical programming is crucial in supporting targeted activities requiring dedicated action. Vertical programming also fosters innovation.  Mainstreaming can be useful in ensuring that VAWG is not relegated to the margins and regarded as “someone else's” problem, as it allows for a holistic approach whereby every actor/sector/cluster takes their share of responsibility in prevention of and response to VAWG.

5. Encourage coordination and partnership at all levels. Coordination is central to all efforts to design, implement and monitor VAWG interventions.  Coordination must happen at the national, sub-national, and regional levels, and should also happen within and across different organizations working in the field.  Coordination should not only involve those who are working on VAWG-specific programmes and/or represent key sectors in VAWG response; it is critical that government partners, human rights advocates, representatives of humanitarian sectors and others are also engaged in coordination efforts. (Also see coordination section, as well as Coordinated Response module.)

6.  Undertake advocacy at all levels to promote awareness of the issue of VAWG and ensure safe, ethical and effective VAWG interventions.  Advocacy provides the means to influence VAWG-related decision-making in positive directions.  In view of the sensitive and often political nature of VAWG, strong and flexible advocacy plans can be particularly useful in achieving policy and other reforms.  (Also see advocacy section.)

7.  Work for short- and medium-term results but within a framework of a long-term strategy for the elimination of VAWG. Efforts to address VAWG in humanitarian settings are often based on assessment of emergency needs.  However, it is critical that programs support a long-term perspective that is informed by a progressive theory of change so that short- and medium-term goals are regularly reviewed and adjusted according to completed objectives as well as lessons learned.

8.  Monitor VAWG interventions more effectively. Without better national and local data on the impact of VAWG programmes, it is difficult to build a solid evidence base for successful approaches to addressing VAWG in humanitarian contexts. Monitoring should be a part of all programmes that address VAWG.