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Ensuring gender-responsiveness

  • To work effectively on ending violence against women and girls, it is especially important to become familiar with and be responsive to the specific gender dynamics and social and cultural reference points that prescribe the roles of men and women in any given society. This requires socio-cultural research and analysis to understand what the norms and expectations are for men and women in any given context and how this might affect the programme, so that interventions can be designed accordingly. It is also important to assess how interventions might interact with and influence the attitudes and behaviours of the target group and surrounding community, to ensure that negative gender stereotypes and discrimination against women and girls are not reinforced by the programme.
  • Understanding how gender inequalities are compounded for certain groups of women and girls (because of their age, ethnicity, national origin, occupation or other characteristics) is also important in order to identify the barriers these groups face in accessing services and developing strategies to overcome them.
  • Capacity (knowledge, skills and attitudes) of government sector personnel and service providers must be developed on gender to effectively address the needs of survivors and undertake prevention initiatives.
  • A gender-responsive approach also requires empowering women and ensuring that they know their rights, so that they can avail themselves of the services and recourse they are entitled to.
  • When working with men and boys, programmes should explicitly address gender attitudes and promote alternative notions of masculinity. These have proven to be more effective in changing attitudes and behaviours related to violence against women than programmes that do not have built-in gender and masculinities components. (WHO, 2007)