Written by Leane Ramsoomar.
When I started my position as Research Uptake Manager of the Global What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls? Programme, I was privileged to have a window into the 2016 Capacity Development and Annual Scientific meetings in Dubai. Being introduced to the partners on this formidable global effort to prevent violence against women and girls, I was greeted with warmth and some nervousness by programme partners. Research Uptake? What is it? How do we do it? How will we measure it?
In the early months of taking office, I came to realize that research uptake was a field known to many of the partners on the programme by many names. Knowledge translation, knowledge in action, translation research……..Indeed several definitions of research uptake have been exchanged in the world of research and implementation and it caused and continues to cause confusion and sometimes utter bewilderment.
So we set out on a path to demystify research uptake. Several drafts of research uptake plans, interactive discussions and capacity development sessions later, there was light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Partners began to write blogs, research papers were trickling in and policy briefs no longer seemed unattainable.
The 2017 Capacity Development workshop was the perfect testing ground for the knowledge and skills transferred over the course of the past 11 months. Partners were joining the pieces of the puzzle. Breakaway rooms were abuzz with ideas, teams jointly brainstormed, and exciting interactive discussions held. With a critical thinking and “learning by doing” approach adopted, the bigger picture began to emerge. Listening to short evidence- based presentations of research, listening in on discussions and debates ranging from stakeholder prioritization to tailored messaging for key audiences and sharing ideas for blogging and brief writing left one feeling dizzy with excitement. Fewer things satisfy me than watching the rapid and meaningful growth of individuals and organizations working to address social problems.
For What Works and their partners, this growth has been phenomenal and the enthusiasm for doing research uptake is gratifying. It remains to be seen, not just how the efforts of the What Works partners will inform policy and programmatic decision-making for VAWG arising from this programme, but perhaps even more encouragingly how these efforts will be sustained long after the programme has ended.