Across the world, gender-based violence continues to perpetuate harm against women and girls in their diversity. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to further vulnerability for women, with levels of gender-based violence (GBV), unemployment and insecurity heightened in already gender-unequal contexts. A survey on East and Southern Africa by UN Women revealed that more than 50% of respondents felt that gender-based vio- lence had increased during the pandemic. In a context where 46% of African women are estimated to have experienced some form of gender-based violence in their life- time, these COVID-related vulnerabilities represent a worrying trend.
It is imperative that research reflects on the legal and policy frameworks that exist to address gender-based violence in Africa, with special prioritization of women and girls’ experiences. In 2021, the theme for the annual ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign was ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Pre- vent, Collect’ – foregrounding the neces- sary shifts in the distribution of resources to women on the frontlines of responding to gender-based violence, the equitable pro- vision of services for victims and survivors of GBV, targeted interventions supporting prevention-initiatives, and responding to the gap in available data concerning what works.
This report seeks to consolidate evidence from across the continent on the existing regional frameworks and interventions focused on gender-based violence. It then explores case studies on prevention and response strategies across different coun- tries, highlighting what has worked in the prevention of and response to GBV. The report then explores the role of civil soci- ety in this work and recommendations for multisectoral collaboration going forward.
The paper argues that no single, isolated strategy to address gender-based vio- lence can be effective, rather deploying a whole-systems approach to gender-just and equitable policy development, resourc- ing and implementation (in collaboration with civil society) is critical to move the needle forward in the GBV-response.