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Creating Lasting Change in GBV Programming: Learnings on Sustainability in the Prevention+ Programme

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17 December 2020

Gender inequality is one of the most pressing barriers to global social and economic progress and the fulfilment of human rights. One of the most prevalent symptoms of gender inequality is gender-based violence (GBV), with one in three women worldwide experiencing physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. The root causes of GBV and gender inequality are deeply embedded in patriarchal values and power structures within societies, policies, and legislation.


This is why Rutgers and our partners Sonke Gender Justice, Promundo US, and the MenEngage Global Alliance started Prevention+ – a five-year, multi-country programme in Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Rwanda, and Uganda that seeks to end gender-based violence. Initiated in 2016, it is a first of its kind programme that transforms the harmful gender norms that drive GBV at the individual, community, institutional, and governmental levels of society. The programme targets men as agents of change and uses intersectional interventions to address the root causes of GBV and gender inequality.

As we wrap up our Prevention+ programme, we want to take a look back, take stock, and plan ahead. The programme recently underwent an external evaluation that showed it was impactful across all four levels of interventions. Evidence shows that some results would not have occurred (or would have been significantly diminished) had the programme not operated simultaneously across the different levels of society. The interventions led to healthier intimate partner relationships; an increase in awareness of and access to services for survivors; the promotion of gender just and equitable values by community leaders, CSOs, and public institutions; and laws and policies that promote gender justice.

But, we know these successes are only valuable if they are also sustainable. We have developed thoughtful, long term strategies to maintain impact and institutionalise processes. One of our predominant approaches is working with pre-existing structures and institutions, rather than creating new ones. Prevention+ has:

  • Created formal and informal networks within structures and institutions that allow actors to self organise
  • Developed materials for ongoing knowledge transfer and programme management (i.e. manuals in Lebanon, Rwanda, and Uganda; reporting books for tracking and monitoring in Rwanda; and a video guide for a prison standard operating procedure in Indonesia)
  • Strengthened relationships between actors across and within the different levels of interventions to increase collaboration, knowledge sharing, and accountability
  • Increased access to resources for those within the GBV prevention system
  • Supported actors to take on new roles that increased their involvement and engagement in GBV prevention efforts at the institutional level

This focus on strengthening both the actors within the system, as well as the system itself, supports new ways of working that enhance existing GBV prevention and response systems. Of course, in many cases, institutionalisation is an ongoing progress. Some challenges include in-country staff turnover and inconsistency of implementation, while others go beyond the programme, like stigma and backlash surrounding the issues, difficult political and economic climates, and possible changes in governmental support.

As we look to 2021, Prevention+ has created a strong backbone for what’s to come, which will be implemented as key learnings for future GBV prevention programming.

A recent external evaluation of the programme showed that it was impactful across all four levels of interventions. Find five key takeaways or lessons that we learnt here.

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