Department for International Development
UK aid project helps cut violence against women by more than half in Democratic Republic of Congo
A project working to challenge the social acceptance of violence against women and girls in the DRC saw women’s experience of domestic violence fall from 69% to 29% after two years of intervention.
- UK aid-backed research programme ‘What Works to Prevent Violence’ studies effective ways to reduce rates of violence against women and girls around the world.
- A pilot in the Democratic Republic of Congo dramatically cut violence against women by 58%.
- The project trained faith leaders and community volunteers in 15 remote and conflict-affected communities to speak out and make violence socially unacceptable.
A UK aid project has dramatically reduced women’s experience of domestic and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A project working to challenge the social acceptance of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in the DRC saw women’s experience of domestic violence fall from 69% to 29% after two years of intervention – a drop of 58%.
Women’s experiences of sexual violence from a non-partner also reduced from 24% to 4% – a more than five-fold reduction.
Supported by UK aid, NGOs Tearfund and Heal Africa trained faith leaders and community volunteers in 15 rural and conflict-affected areas in Ituri province to challenge harmful attitudes which drive gender inequality, and to make violence against women and girls socially unacceptable in their communities.
The faith leaders were trained to speak to people in their communities about the issue and were encouraged to raise the subject in sermons, prayer groups and youth groups.
Engaging with both men and women to challenge their traditional attitudes about gender and violence was key to achieving these results. At the start of the research, more than 50% of men and 43% of women surveyed said there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten. By the end, this proportion almost halved.
As well as women experiencing less domestic violence, the percentage of men reporting that they had carried out domestic violence dropped from 68% to 24%.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt yesterday said:
Shockingly, one in three women are beaten or sexually abused during their lifetime, making violence against women and girls one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world.
But this evidence shows it can be stopped, by working with local communities to challenge outdated attitudes about gender and violence.
Every woman and girl deserves the right to live without fear. That’s why UK aid is investing in the largest global study of its kind, to provide the evidence needed to help governments and international organisations end this abuse, save lives and build a better future for everyone.
The DRC project was part of the What Works to Prevent Violence Initiative. What Works is a flagship research programme from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which is investing in projects around the world that seek to understand and address the underlying causes of violence and stop it from occurring.
During humanitarian emergencies, including conflict, violence against women and girls can become more common and severe. It is estimated that one in five displaced or refugee women are subjected to sexual violence – 2014 research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Veena O’Sullivan, Head of Thematic Support Team, Tearfund yesterday said:
Even in the most challenging of circumstances, we can never underestimate the potential to achieve change. To end violence against women and girls, we must make the connection between violence and harmful attitudes and norms on gender. These are attitudes held by both men and women, so engaging the whole community is key.
Faith leaders in conflict affected communities in Ituri (Eastern DRC) have done just that as evident in this brief. This project has shown that this change is possible, and it’s exciting that Tearfund’s model for engaging faith leaders and communities works in tackling violence against women and girls.
These results demonstrate VAWG can be tackled effectively even in conflict-affected settings, and that faith and other local leaders can play an important part in achieving this. The DRC is a vast country affected by years of protracted conflicts which have left millions of people living in unstable circumstances and lacking access to basic necessities.
Religious institutions are, however, often respected, and faith leaders can play an important role in influencing people’s views, including on gender and violence.
Notes to editors
What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls
- The UK is a world-leading investor in research on the prevention of violence against women and girls (VAWG).
- What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls is a flagship programme from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which is investing in projects around the world that seek to understand and address the underlying causes of violence, to stop it from occurring and find interventions that can be taken to scale.
- The DRC project is one of UK aid-funded 15 pilots across 12 countries in Africa and Asia to research ways to prevent VAWG in different contexts – the largest ever study of its kind.
- Psychosocial support was also offered provided for survivors of violence, including access to medical treatment.
- The evidence from these pilots shows that interventions tackling values and behaviours – in homes, schools, and communities – can achieve significant reductions in just a few years.
- UK aid is generating rigorous evidence that can be shared with other governments, donors and civil society organisations to encourage more effective global action to prevent violence.
- What Works consists of three complementary components: 1. The Global Programme - the Global Programme conducts research, evaluations of existing interventions, and supports innovation in programming through a scheme of dedicated grants from UK aid. 2. Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict and Humanitarian Crises - this is focused on developing research and evidence to fill gaps in knowledge about what interventions work to prevent and respond to violence in politically fragile and conflict-affected areas. 3. Economic and Social Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls - this is focused on the estimation of social and economic costs of violence against women and girls, developing the economic case for investing in prevention.
- Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee. Founded in 1968, Tearfund has been working around the world for more than 50 years responding to disasters and helping lift communities out of poverty. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit www.tearfund.org.
- For further information or interviews please contact: Sarah Baldwin on 07776211518 or contact the Tearfund Media Team on 0208 943 7792. For out of hours media enquiries please call 07710 573749.
General media queries
Telephone 020 7023 0600
Follow the DFID Media office on Twitter – @DFID_Press
Latest News from
Department for International Development
Statement from Harriet Baldwin on Ebola in Uganda14/06/2019 09:32:00
International Development Minister comments on the cases of Ebola in Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Response to Independent Commission report on Oxfam International12/06/2019 16:10:00
Statement on the Independent Commission report on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change in Oxfam International.
Response to Charity Commission report on Oxfam12/06/2019 11:20:00
Statements given yesterday from International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and government spokesperson.
Rory Stewart statement on number of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo05/06/2019 11:20:00
International Development Secretary comments as DRC Ministry of Health confirms that number of reported cases has exceeded 2,000.
‘Her Potential, Our Future’, Baroness Sugg speech at Women Deliver03/06/2019 16:10:00
International Development Minister Baroness Sugg yesterday delivered a speech about UK aid’s commitment to women and girls’ rights in Vancouver.
DFID Ghana Country Director's speech at the Northern Ghana Development Summit31/05/2019 13:10:00
Mr. Philip Smith yesterday spoke on the theme: “Accelerating the sustainable development of Northern Ghana in the context of peace, security and Ghana Beyond Aid", in Tamale, Ghana.
More than 380,000 people in Gaza will receive life-saving medical treatment with help from UK aid29/05/2019 16:10:00
UK aid to the World Health Organisation will address urgent gaps in trauma and emergency care, including by establishing a new limb reconstruction unit.
New UK aid for safe and dignified burials to tackle Ebola in DRC28/05/2019 11:20:00
Minister for Africa announces UK aid funding for safe and dignified burials on visit to Ebola-hit region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.