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Situation analysis

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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A situation analysis is a key foundation for any sound intervention. It helps to ensure a programme’s relevance and to find out the best course of action (e.g. strategies, entry points, partnerships) by learning about community attitudes and practices regarding violence against women; identifying what has already been done to address violence against women and what results and lessons were obtained, as well as who the main actors have been and who might be key to engage. In addition to ensuring the appropriateness of the intervention to the local context, carrying out a situational analysis will help avoid duplication of efforts.

What are the objectives of a situational analysis?

Define the nature and extent of the problem in the local context;

Map the perceptions and experiences of key stakeholders in relation to the problem;

Identify existing strategies and activities which address the problem;

Identify the actors and organizations that are already active in the area;

Identify the actors and organizations that could be important partners; and

Identify gaps in existing strategies and activities (Promundo and UNFPA 2007, p.94). Available in English, Spanish and Portuguese; 4 pages.


What factors should be considered to determine the type of situational analysis to undertake?

The goal of the initiative (e.g. Is it to affect change in gender norms? Is it to raise awareness of violence as a public health problem and a human rights violation? Is it to raise awareness of legislation?);

The scope and scale of the initiative ( e.g. Is it focused on reaching a particular group of men in the community, a specific setting or institution, or a large and/or multi-sectoral effort intended to reach many diverse groups of men? etc.)

The amount of time available for this step;

The expertise available in the group; and

The amount of available resources, financial or otherwise.

What are some of the issues that a situational analysis for an initiative on engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls might want to explore?

The general context of the problem:

In general, what is known about the problem of violence against women in the programme’s coverage area? Have any studies on the prevalence, forms and/or patterns of violence against women been carried out in the target region? Country? State/province? Community? Institution?

Have any studies explored knowledge, attitudes and practices of men in relation to violence against women in the target region? Country? State/province? Community?

Have there been any studies or surveys on perpetrators or on identifying high-risk factors that can contribute to violence against women?

Have there been any studies or surveys on identifying protective factors that contribute to a decrease of violence against women?

Does the government have a national plan to address the issue of violence against women? At the national level, are there policies, plans or programmes (e.g. in the health, education or judicial sectors) to address the problem of violence against women? What are these policies and how are they applied in the community of intervention? Are there any policies that relate specifically to men and violence against women or are men addressed in the other existing frameworks?


Boys and men’s perceptions about violence against women and girls:

What does the community think about violence in general?

Are men aware of the magnitude of the problem? Of its consequences?

What are boys’ and men´s main concerns regarding violence in general?

What are boys’ and men’s main concerns regarding violence against women? What are their concerns regarding related issues (e.g. education of girls, women in formal or informal employment, women’s safety in public spaces, sex work, sexual relations, child marriage and parenting, reproductive and sexual health, HIV and AIDS, among others)?

What are the prevailing norms related to masculinities and gender in the community? For instance, are boys and men expected to be aggressive towards women? Are they expected to have multiple sexual partners?

How do these norms affect relations between men and women?

Are there opportunities for change through ‘voices of resistance’? For instance, there may be individuals, community leaders or groups who differ from the prevailing gender norms and who can be tapped to promote wider change.

How do boys and men assess the types of interventions (if any) that have been carried out to address violence against women in their communities or country?

Are there particular forms of violence against women or girls that are of greater community concern or of greater concern to men and boys?

Have they been involved in any such intervention? Would they like to be?

What role do men and boys think they could play in preventing violence against women?

How do they suggest that the programme reach additional men and boys?

The community’s perceptions and existing actions on the issue:

What does the community think about violence against women? What are the community’s perceptions on the forms and prevalence of violence against women, against girls? About men’s involvement in this work?

Is there support in the community for an initiative to address violence against women prevention? If not, why?

In the surrounding community, what types of organizations are active in the area of violence against women? What are their core areas of work? What are their strategies? What types of violence do they address? Who do they work with?

Are any of these organizations working with men? If so, which groups of men do they work with (e.g. young men, men from rural areas, fathers, boys in school or out of school, traditional leaders, religious leaders, labour unions, others)?

In the surrounding community, are there organizations active in areas related to violence against women?

In the surrounding community, are there places that boys and men congregate, such as sports clubs?

Are schools carrying out any work in the area of violence prevention? If so, what type of work?

Is the private sector involved in anyway? Do businesses address the issue with employees?


The nature of the existing legal/administrative framework:

Are there laws in the country that criminalize violence against women?

What types of violence does the law address and what specific actions does it penalize?

Are men, including young men, (as well as women and the community at large) aware of the legislation and its content?

How effective is this legislation? Is there data on the number of reported crimes compared to the number of prosecutions and sentences handed down?

Are there institutions or programmes that follow up on the effectiveness and the impact of laws against violence?

Does the law address perpetrators?

Are the health, police and justice services prepared to address survivors’ needs?

Are there services for perpetrators?

What is the experience and expertise of the implementing and partner organizations in working with men and boys?

Is there experience working with men and/or boys in the area of violence against women? What were the lessons learned?

Has there been training for staff members in the area of gender or masculinities, human rights, and/or violence against women? If so, when and what types of training, and how do they relate to the goals of the planned intervention?

Is there written information or audiovisual materials related to violence against women? Has this information been made available to staff in the organization?

Has there been collaboration between organizations to address violence against women? What were the lessons learned from those partnerships?

Is there information about staff members’ attitudes, beliefs and knowledge about violence against women, about men’s roles?

What are potential barriers to establishing and implementing a plan to address violence against women with men and boys in the organization?

What human and financial resources are available to address violence against women by partnering with men and boys?

(Adapted from Bott et al. 2004; Promundo and UNFPA 2007).

See these brief case studies on the use of qualitative assessment techniques:

Design of a public education campaign (Puntos de Encuentro, Nicaragua)
Engaging adolescent boys in the Balkans (International Center for Research on Women and CARE)


Tools that can help programmes carry out situation analyses:

International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) - IMAGES is one of the most comprehensive survey instruments covering gender, quality of life, violence, sexual and reproductive health, childhood and family issues. It is a complex, large-scale population-based survey instrument with up to 300 questions that can be asked, requiring technical and trained staff and a considerable amount of resources for implementation. It is also being used on a smaller scale to collect baseline data before policy and programme interventions, so that it can be used again at the end of an intervention period to measure change. The survey tool is a valuable reference for smaller scale and lower-budget applications (i.e. in terms of selecting a shorter list of questions most relevant for the intervention). There are separate questionnaires for men and women, each taking approximately 45 minutes to complete. The survey is being piloted in seven countries. The men's survey is available in English and Portuguese. The women's survey is available in English and Portuguese.

Gender-Equitable Men (GEM) Scale – This scale seeks to assess how much a given group of adult or young men adhere to or believe in a rigid non-equitable and violent version of masculinity. How men respond to the scale is highly associated with their self-reported use of violence against women. The tool is useful in assessing men’s knowledge, attitudes and practices in establishing the baseline and for post-intervention evaluation of changes.

For a detailed description of how the GEM Scale was developed, please look for “Measuring Attitudes Toward Gender Norms among Young Men in Brazil ” by Julie Pulerwitz and Gary Barker in Men and Masculinities, Volume 10, Number 3, April 2008.

Review a brief summary of the GEM scale in English.

See the GEM scale in English, Spanish and Portuguese.  The scale used in Ethiopia is also available in English.

Measures for the assessment of dimensions of violence against women. A compendium. Flood, M. 2008. Unpublished. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University.

This is a compendium of measures for the assessment of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to violence against women. It includes measures regarding gender and sexual norms, but does not cover measures related to child abuse, child sexual abuse, or sexual harassment. Available in English.

Measuring Violence-Related Attitudes, Behaviors, and Influences Among Youths: A Compendium of Assessment Tools (2nd edition, 2005). Linda L. Dahlberg, Susan B. Toal, Monica H. Swahn, and Christopher B. Behrens. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

This compendium provides researchers and prevention specialists with a set of tools to assess violence-related beliefs, behaviours, and influences and to evaluate programmes to prevent youth violence. It may be particularly useful for those new to the field of youth violence prevention. For more experienced researchers, it may serve as a resource to identify additional measures to assess the factors associated with violence among youth. Available in English.

Mobilising Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence: A Resource Guide for Organisations in East and Southern Africa (2003). Michau and Naker.

Developed by Raising Voices in Uganda in collaboration with UNIFEM and Action Aid, this Resource Guide is a tool for community-based organizations working to prevent domestic violence. The first chapter on community assessment includes a series of activities to help assess common beliefs and attitudes about domestic violence held by various groups and to begin to build relationships with community members and leaders. Available in English.

Researching Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists (2005). World Health Organization and Program for Appropriate Technology in Health.

This manual is directed at researchers and activists interested in the intersection of violence and health in developing countries. Chapter 5, which focuses on qualitative approaches to research and offers examples of rapid assessments that may be useful. Available in English (PATH) and Spanish (Alianza Intercambios).

Feel! Think! Act! Guide to Interactive Drama for Sexual and Reproductive Health with Young People (2008). International HIV and AIDS Alliance Secretariat.

This toolkit provides guidance on using participatory learning action to encourage young people to think about and take action to improve their sexual and reproductive health, including prevention of violence. Available in English.

Inner Spaces, Outer Faces developed by the ICRW and CARE is a toolkit for learning and action on gender and sexuality. The toolkit offers guidance on a wide range of needs assessments and participatory learning methods, for example, stakeholder analysis, force field analysis, seasonal diagram and social mapping, among others. The toolkit is available in English.