AboutAbout What Works


Approach to creating lasting change

The Theory of Change maps out the actions that must be taken to address complex social problems. It defines a programme’s overall goals or vision for change, maps out the different social institutions and levels where change must be promoted, and sets out what actions will be taken to drive and achieve that change.

Behavioural sciences research has shown that interventions are rarely effective in promoting change if they are not theoretically grounded. The What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Programme is guided by a clearly defined Theory of Change.

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Fewer women and girls are exposed to gender-based violence
long-term outcome
  • An expanded cadre of researchers who can to conduct
    rigorous VAWG prevention evaluation research and to
    use evidence to influence policy and practice
  • Better VAWG prevention knowledge generation informed by
    stronger research designs
  • Major resource mobilisation for VAWG prevention from
    national treasuries and donors
  • Widespread adoption of at a country-level of evidence-based and funded VAWG prevention strategy
  • Growing recognition that VAWG can be prevented
  • Greater openess to new generation interventions
medium term outcome
  • Researchers equipped to continue to undertake VAWG prevention research
  • Programmers equipped to design better VAWG prevention
    interventions and to scale up
  • Interventions ready for scale up, or export and adaptation for use elsewhere
  • Knowledge to inform the next generation of interventions in research
  • Knowledge to guide country-level and global strategies for VAWG prevention
  • More confidence in the field
  • More funds
  • More evidence-based programming
  • Fewer women and girls experiencing VAWG
  • Incremental advance in knowledge of designa dn delivery of complex interventions
  • #programmers, stakeholders and research
    with an in-depth understanding of evidence-based VAWG prevention
  • # research equipped to undertake VAWG prevention research
  • Research reports and summaries of the findings of 21-26 impact evaluation and
    operations research project
  • At least 26 peer-reviewed journal articles published
  • Conference presentations given, and web summaries developed
  • Aseries of knowledge synthesis reports published for stakeholders and programmers
    with accompanying peer-review journal articles
  • # of stakeholders understanding the role of science in VAWG prevention
  • Impact of research on policy
  • # women and girls who are recipients of VAWG prevention
  • New generations of intervention for VAWG prevention
  • Bespoke in-person, email and videoconference
    TA Monthly webinar learning labs held over four year 
  • Learning through doing
  • Initial workshop for innovation grantees and annual
    meeting of researchers and programmers
  • Experiences and tools disseminated through website,
    list serv, conferences and digital platforms
  • World leading scientific expertise
  • Community of practise amongst researchers
  • Funding for development of 10-14 programmes through
    innovation grants
  • Funding for 5 operations research studies, 5 evaluation grant
    programmes, and 6 impact evaluations
  • Funding for economic evaluation of inteventions and scale up
  • Strategic investment in research uptake
  • multi-level communications plan and startegy for uptake globally and in-country
  • Multi-media stakeholder capacity building
  • Publication synthesising research findings and implications for policy and programming
  • Funding for development of 10-14 programmes through innovation grants
Build knowledge of social and
economic determinants of VAWG in
different settings
Build the evidence base through
new evaluation research
Fund new high quality innovative programmers
Understand how to strengthen responses
build the capacity of stakeholding
primary prevention of VAWG
Disseminate knowledge
Build knowledge of costs of VAWG
prevention and
impact of scale up on costs
Buil VAWG prevention programming
and research expertise
  • Limited understanding of primary prevention and differentiating it from response
  • Limited science of ‘what works’ in VAWG prevention
  • Overwhelming donor emphasis on strengthening responses
  • Political sensitivity of the issues, especially resistance to implementing gender transformative programmers
  • Limited funds
  • Limited VAWG research evaluation expertise global
  • Insufficient conceptually strong interventions ready to evaluate
  • The highest quality impact evaluations are technically very complex studies
  • Limited understanding of what is evidence-based VAWG prevention
  • Low political priority leading to inadequate resources
  • Perception that programmes are complex, expensive and hard to scale up.
  • VAWG not a priority area of investment
Globally one in three woman and girls experience violence in their lifetime. This is driven by the low status and power of women and girls, patriacal social norms, and social norms that regard the use of violence as acceptable, constructions of masculinity the emphasis control and dominance over women, and high levels of exposure to abuse and emotional trauma. It is exacerbated by poverty, problematic alcohol use and limited political and institutional will to prevent and respond. Despite this evidence, investment VAWG prevention is inadaquate.