Tackling the Pervasive Social Issue of VAWG: Using Community-based Action Teams (COMBAT) to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls
This project is run in Ghana. Rural and urban communities in four districts located in the Central region have been selected for the study. Two districts are along the Coast (Abura and Komenda) while the other two (Agona and Upper Denkyira) are inland districts. Intervention / project implementation is being carried out in 20 communities in two districts, namely Agona and Komenda districts.
Summary of Intervention / Research
The goal of the Gender Centre’s project is to reduce the incidence of VAWG in Ghana and protect women’s rights through state and community-based structures. This is being done by increasing the visibility of VAWG as a social issue, improving the public’s knowledge and understanding of its impact on the status of women and girls, establishing a community-based response system for the support and protection of women, and by providing counselling services to ensure effective response to all whilst sharing best practice and key lessons learnt with other stakeholders.
The COMBAT model/approach was developed over a decade ago by the Gender Centre as part of a rural response to VAWG implemented in over 20 communities in different regions of Ghana.
Community-Based Action Teams (COMBAT), with equal representation of men and women, are selected and trained on types, causes and impact of VAWG, family laws, conflict resolution, advocacy and counselling. Using participatory methods, role plays, drama and more, these teams educate and sensitize community members on the impact of VAWG, family laws, and provide counselling services and support tovictims to access justice and other social services where necessary. They also serve as a bridge between community members and the police, as well as other state agencies to ensure a consistent and coordinated response. Linkages are also established between state agencies and the community to ensure that members have access to legal services and justice mechanisms, helping women to access justice should they need to. Training is also held for relevant state agency personnel to enhance their knowledge on the impact of VAWG and ensure that cases reported to them are handled effectively. Community and district-level advocacy meetings are held to ensure maximum reach towards the full implementation of all relevant legislations.
This project is seeing both the implementation of the rural response/COMBAT model and an impact assessment of intervention and non-intervention communities. The impact assessment component of the research is led by the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana, Legon. An unmatched cluster randomised controlled trial with two arms; the intervention arm (receive Gender Centre’s RRS /COMBAT package for communities as well as state agencies) and the control arm (receive baseline and post-intervention information on IPV andimplementation of intervention after study) are employed for this study. Ethical approval for the study has been obtained and mapping of communities in the selected districts are currently ongoing. This will be followed by community mobilization and the training of research assistants (on the survey instruments) and subsequently the collection of data for the baseline.
The specific objectives of the impact assessment are to assess the impact of the Rural Response System (RRS) to reduce incidences of VAWG; and assess the extent to which the RRS has changed community attitudes about gender inequality; assess state institutional response to reported cases of VAWG and assess whether the RRS model facilitated a shift in power relations between men and women in the household/community to become more equitable.
The project will run over 3 years and end-line results are expected in the second quarter of 2018
Evelyn Nuvor, Programmes Manager, Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre
Adolphina Addo-Lartey, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Ghana School of Public Health