Sharing what works to prevent violence against women and girls, By Alice Kerr-Wilson, Senior Associate, Social Development Direct


It was a cool spring morning in Stockholm and the taxi was late. The road outside the hotel was blocked by roadworks and I didn’t hold out much hope of it showing up. Seven of us stood around waiting and wondering what to do. It was going to be embarrassing to show up late for our own meeting. Did I have time to upload the presentations? To put out the publications, get through security and to check that the Rozina in Pakistan was connected via the video conference? Did I need to ask the hotel to call for another taxi?

“Are any of you Alice?” asked a man in a suit behind me. “Yes, that’s me,” I replied. “I’m your taxi driver. You booked two taxis, the other one went to the wrong place but will be here soon”. Relief. We were going to make it in time after all.

I was chairing an event to share evidence from the What Works programme about what is working around the world to prevent violence against women and girls – the event was held in collaboration with The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida and held in their offices in Stockholm. We were really excited to be collaborating with Sida on this event .

Participants included 25 Sida advisors as well as a representative from the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DFID and the What Works programme. The seminar was opened by Sida’s Director General, Carin Jämtin, together with the Head of DFID’s VAWG Team, Sarah Fisher White, who both emphasized their commitment to preventing VAWG in their work. The eleven presentations that followed were powerful and important, including the four made via conference call from Pakistan, Geneva, Ethiopia, and London. There were presentations from all three What Works components and a broad range of projects and evaluations. Besides What Works, there were also presentations from Sida on their social protection cash transfer work Ghana’s LEAP social protection programme (Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty), and from What Works’ International Advisory Board chair Claudia Garcia-Moreno, on the new UN RESPECT framework.

Sida and DFID reaffirmed their interest in exploring future opportunities to collaborate on VAWG. All participants were encouraged to share and communicate the evidence from What Works and other research which shows that VAWG is preventable with other donors, governments, civil society and the private sector to improve the effectiveness of efforts to prevent VAWG. Use global opportunities such as the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative Global Conference in London in November 2019 and Beijing +25 in 2020 to communicate findings and use these to drive evidence-based commitments and action.   The participants were also encouraged to keep up to date with the latest results and evidence that will be launched from the What Works programme in its final six months.

Overall, it was a rich day of discussion and learning. It was a great opportunity to share What Works findings with an interested donor, working on similar issues, but not yet familiar with our research and findings. Both Sida and DfID staff and What Works representatives expressed how much they had appreciated and learned from the day. We hope that this event has opened the door to strong future collaboration with Sida on preventing VAWG.


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