Violence against women is recognized as a global public policy priority. Yet, despite growing awareness of the causes and consequences of violence against women, limited high-quality, actionable data on its prevalence exist. This gap is largely due to countries’ inadequate technical capacities to measure violence against women prevalence, meaning they rely on international experts, of whom there are not enough to meet the current and growing needs.
Collecting quality data on violence against women through special surveys is crucial if we want to understand and end this scourge. Doing so is challenging.
To address this void in ethical, reliable and comparable violence against women prevalence data across Asia and the Pacific, the kNOwVAWdata Initiative was launched by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Asia and the Pacific Regional Office.
The first phase of kNOwVAWdata operated from mid-2016 to March 2021.
The kNOwVAWdata Initiative’s work is organized into four core pillars:
Technical support to national violence against women prevalence studies;
kNOwVAWdata Course on the Measurement of Violence against Women;
Building a network of local and regional violence against women data experts; and 4. Knowledge capture and sharing.
The kNOwVAWdata Initiative offers a sustainable mechanism for countries to develop locally based skills and tools to collect, analyse and communicate their own violence against women data and monitor progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 for gender equality.
Phase I results have shown promise for the future of violence against women data capacities in the Asia-Pacific region.
kNOwVAWdata has provided direct technical guidance to 15 countries in Asia and the Pacific to conduct violence against women prevalence surveys, which resulted in nine published survey reports during Phase I of kNOwVAWdata. The Initiative has also engaged with countries in the region through the provision of preliminary informational sessions and/or advisory support and guidance on violence against women data activities amid COVID-19.
In total, between the 2018 and 2019 kNOwVAWdata courses, 65 participants from 19 countries have participated (face-to-face) – with an additional cohort participating in the third annual course, which began in December 2020 online. These participants are equipped with the skills to plan, conduct, analyse, report and advocate results from national violence against women prevalence surveys, and to provide support and share learning with peers undertaking such surveys through South–South collaboration.
kNOwVAWdata has created an extensive repository of resources for violence against women survey planners and implementers; research organizations and academia; as well as data users, including violence against women prevention and response programmes and policymakers, government agencies and civil society. Among other communications products, the resource repository includes:
Guidance on best practice survey methodologies;
Overview of violence against women measurement indicators;
Analysis of sources of violence against women data and the difference between administrative and prevalence data;
Explanation of key terminology related to violence against women prevalence data;
Principles for interviewing women who may have experienced violence;
Guidance on measuring prevalence of violence against women with disabilities;
Violence against women prevalence survey reports supported by UNFPA in the Asia-Pacific region; ¡ Lessons learnt from previous violence against women prevalence surveys;
Regional comparative data visualizations; and - Guidance on violence against women data collection activities during COVID-19.
kNOwVAWdata has told the stories behind the data through the lens of violence against women survey planners and enumerators (interviewers), course participants and others in the form of multimedia products,1 news pieces and other content, as well as 70 public speaking engagements. l In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, kNOwVAWdata has provided thought leadership on collecting and interpreting violence against women data when mobility restrictions and other measures make it nearly impossible to survey women safely, and thus compromise the generation of ethical and reliable data. As a consequence of the pandemic, surveys that were planned for 2020 had to be delayed to ensure women’s safety as a top priority.
Key recommendations and lessons learnt
It is important to underscore that the quality of violence against women prevalence surveys is imperative, not the quantity of surveys conducted.
Identifying the right implementing partners to work on capacity-building in violence against women data – the University of Melbourne and ANROWS – has been key to the success of the kNOwVAWdata course and its sustainability.
It is extremely valuable when individuals from the same country but different sectors – representing both violence against women data producers (e.g., statisticians and researchers) and users (e.g., policymakers and programme implementers) – participate in the kNOwVAWdata course together.
It is critical to identify sustainable funding models for kNOwVAWdata course participation so as not to deter participants with limited resources from accessing the course; often, these participants need and benefit most from the course learning.