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Sexual violence is prevalent in many conflict-affected environments, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it is reported that 1.8 million women have been raped in their lifetime. According to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, conflict-related sexual violence is one of the most critical challenges faced by the people and government of the DRC.

Under the £25 million What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls programme, Tearfund was funded by the UK Government to implement a project – ‘Engaging with Faith Groups to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict-affected Communities’. This policy paper, drawing on research conducted by Tearfund, reveals that faith leaders indeed have unique reach and influence within conflict-affected communities and a mandate to speak into these issues. If mobilised and equipped, they could play a key role in more effective prevention of and response to VAWG.

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Jewkes, R., Fulu, E., Naved, R. T., Chirwa, E., Dunkle, K., Haardörfer, R., & Garcia-Moreno, C. (2017). Women’s and men’s reports of past-year prevalence of intimate partner violence and rape and women’s risk factors for intimate partner violence: A multicountry cross-sectional study in Asia and the Pacific. PLoS medicine, 14(9), e1002381.

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Poverty is a key driver of intimate partner violence (IPV). Women living in poorer places with lower socio-economic status, higher food insecurity, and less access to education and work opportunities are more likely to experience IPV. In addition, women without economic and social resources find it harder to leave abusive relationships. To date, women’s economic empowerment interventions have been central to IPV prevention approaches. This evidence review, however, suggests that women’s involvement in economic interventions has mixed effects on their vulnerability to IPV and can in fact increase the risks of their experiencing IPV, especially in situations where women’s participation in paid economic activity is the exception to the norm. Evidence suggests that interventions that aim to increase women’s access to work need to focus simultaneously on socially empowering women and transforming community gender norms to maximize the positive impact of women’s work on women’s empowerment and help prevent VAWG.

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Violence against women (VAW) and violence against children (VAC) are violations of human rights and global public health priorities. Historically, work to address VAW and VAC have often occurred separately or in silos. This evidence note, however, draws attention to the growing body of evidence on the intersections of VAW and VAC, including risk factors, common social norms, co-occurrence, and the intergenerational cycle of abuse. It presents promising programmatic approaches to prevent and respond to both forms of violence; and policy recommendations, which include prioritising prevention efforts with adolescent girls that challenge gender norms and build girls’ agency.

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