Evaluating justice reform initiatives must focus on whether women and girls are safer and whether perpetrators are held accountable. An important measure of success is whether or not the human rights of women, as stated in international agreements such as CEDAW, are upheld (UN Women, 2011). (The international framework of treaties and standards protecting women’s rights can be found on the UN Women website).
Victim’s assessments of these factors are the most important part of any evaluation. Measures of success may be increased penalties for violence, reduced reports of violence, increased consistency of procedures, more collaboration between agencies, more cases moving through the formal system, and fewer cases moving through the informal system. Because there are so many ways of evaluating success, results from across regions and across issues are difficult to compare and draw clear lessons from. In addition, evaluations often find that programmes have not been implemented as planned and thus determining whether the planned intervention would have had an impact is impossible (e.g. Cashmore and Trimboli, 2005; McGrew and Doung, 2010).
Despite these measurement challenges, the literature reflects general agreement on certain principles of justice sector reform and some important areas of agreement about specific models of justice delivery. For example, when victims are accompanied by trained advocates or lawyers as they access the courts, victim experiences improve.
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