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UK aid to help stop violence against a million women and girls

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The International Development Secretary Alok Sharma has announced a new UK aid programme, What Works to Prevent Violence: Impact at Scale, to help stop violence against one million of the world’s poorest women and girls.

The seven-year project will challenge violent behaviour against women and girls across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

It will build on a successful pilot, What Works to Prevent Violence, which halved the levels of physical and sexual violence committed by men against their partners in some communities, including in Tajikistan, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In Ghana, for example, women in participating villages reported a 55 per cent drop in violence by their sexual partner over 18 months.

The Guardian reported positively on the announcement of the £67.5 million programme, focusing on the UK government’s role as a global leader in tackling violence against women and girls. The story ran on p18 of the paper and online.

The International Development Secretary is quoted in the Guardian article, saying:

Violence against women and girls affects communities around the world and one in every three women will experience it in their lifetime. It is an issue we must continue to tackle in both developing and developed countries.

However, for women and girls living in extreme poverty the threat is even higher. Failure to address this issue is not an option and doing nothing condemns future generations to repeat this cycle of violence.

The Guardian article explains how before the What Works pilot, there was little evidence internationally on the best methods to tackle violence in poorer countries. The pilot involved 13 small-scale projects, including one in Tajikistan where after 10 weeks of group sessions on gender inequality and violence, and 10 weeks of economic and business skills training for women, levels of violence against women almost halved – from 64% to 34%.

The Guardian also quotes DFID’s Chief Scientific Adviser Charlotte Watts, who says:

People think it’s going to take generations, but what’s so powerful about What Works is that it is not only showing we are preventing violence, but that these impacts are being achieved over two to three years. Strong evidence gives us the tools to argue the importance of investing in prevention.

Republic, India's most watched English news channel, has published an online article about the What Works announcement, which similarly focuses on Britain leading the way on this issue.

The article notes that a What Works pilot project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which trained faith leaders to use their sermons to challenge abuse reduced domestic violence by nearly 60% in 15 villages.

DFID posted a video on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook telling the story of Denise, a woman whose life was changed through the What Works pilot in Rwanda.

The International Development Secretary Alok Sharma and International Development Minister Baroness Sugg also tweeted about the announcement, sharing a link to the Guardian article and the video of Denise’s story.

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