What the evidence tells us
In the past few decades, significant effort has been devoted to designing and implementing programs and policies to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Nevertheless, a high level of SGBV persists in all countries in the region. We still know very little about what works, for whom and under what conditions. This is true for both prevention and response for victims and survivors.
To create a road map to contribute to the design, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based policies and programs for preventing and responding to SGBV, we conducted a review of interventions for which experimental or quasi-experimental evaluations exist.
What we learned
- It is necessary to design and conduct more impact evaluations of interventions, using an intersectional approach. This means not only addressing the different forms of violence, but also understanding the underlying causes. This exercise requires identifying and understanding the intersectionalities related to socioeconomic situation, ethnicity, race, class, disability, gender identity, age, migratory status and other factors.
- It is crucial to generate more evidence about what interventions are effective at a scale larger than a pilot project, as well as the variables to be considered when scaling up or adapting an intervention to this region.
- We must produce more data about the cost and cost-effectiveness of interventions for preventing and responding to SGBV. Evidence is crucial for supporting the economic analyses needed to justify the expansion of any intervention.
- It is important to continue strengthening protocols for periodic reporting of violence, using standardized data that are consistent from country to country. Data must also be broken down by gender, age, marital status, and ethnic or racial origin, as well as by type of violence and where it occurs. This will help avoid underreporting and will make it possible to develop monitoring systems for following up cases of SGBV.
- It is essential to address different types of violence and the places where they may occur. Most evidence focuses on physical and sexual violence and violence that occurs in the domestic sphere. But other types of violence receive less analysis. These include economic and psychological violence, as well as violence that may occur in the workplace, at school, in cyberspace or in the street.
- It is necessary to promote intersectional mechanisms and interconnecting protocols for coordinating among the various administrative, territorial and institutional levels. This will improve access to and quality of services for survivors of SGBV. Coordinated and multilevel responses make it possible to identify the needs of victims/survivors from multiple perspectives and offer timely and comprehensive services and responses.
What’s new in the region for responding to these gaps?
Addressing knowledge gaps and the scarcity of evidence about what works and what doesn’t for preventing and responding to SGBV requires an integral, interconnected and ongoing effort. There are some promising interventions in the region that reflect these efforts and represent concrete actions to implement them.
In 2021 the Bank approved its first investment loan focusing exclusively on promoting a life free of SGBV against women. The Program for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (Promujeres, for its name in Spanish) seeks to increase the capacity of the GBV Response System (GBVRS) of the National Women’s Institute, as well as improve the quality and use of data about GBV by strengthening the GBV Observatory and the third National GBV Prevalence Survey, among other activities.
Workplace sexual harassment
ELSA is an integral diagnostic and intervention system that uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to help create spaces free of sexual harassment in businesses and organizations in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. It is used to conduct a confidential virtual assessment among workers. An action plan for the organization, based on input from the feedback, is subsequently developed. Finally, there is ongoing monitoring of the indicators selected for the plan.
Tools for response
There are a series of technical tools that reflect best practices for strengthening the capabilities of personnel working in the various institutions that provide direct support to women victims and survivors of SGBV. The tools include:
Numerous opportunities exist for applying behavioral sciences to services for detecting and responding to SGBV, although evidence is still limited. A paper by Garnelo et al. (2019), Applying Behavioral Insights to Intimate Partner Violence: Improving Services for Survivors in Latin America and the Caribbean, offers practical recommendations and ideas for interventions that can be implemented and evaluated within the framework of existing services in LAC to strengthen the response provided to survivors of GBV.
Another step toward preventing and responding SGBV
At the IDB, with our Vision 2025, “Reinvest in the Americas,” we know it is vital to take these lessons into account and generate more and better evidence to ensure that women participate fully in our region’s development.
We invite you to read the document, which includes a road map for prevention and response based on 44 types of interventions that address one or both of those areas and are classified by their degree of effectiveness according to existing impact evaluations.
Much remains to be done, as the most recent prevalence figures show. Nevertheless, the commitment to providing timely, high-quality prevention and response services to women victims and survivors must be an unquestionable priority for all countries, institutions and actors involved.