Taking Action: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women
Task Force for Gender Equality
London: United Nations Development Programme, 2005.
Chapter 9. Combat violence against women
Violence against women occurs in epidemic proportions in many countries around the world. In surveys conducted in various countries between 10 and 69 percent of women report having experienced domestic violence (which is only one form of violence against women; see Heise, Ellsberg, and Gottemoeller 1999).
Violence against women has serious health and development impacts and is a gross violation of women’s rights. Its continued existence is fundamentally inconsistent with Goal 3. Although no single intervention will eliminate violence against women, a combination of infrastructural, legal, judicial, enforcement, educational, health, and other service-related actions can significantly reduce it and its consequences. For that to happen, however, violence against women must first be viewed as unacceptable. A global campaign to establish this norm, combined with a scaling-up of community-based interventions and analyses that document the costs of violence against women, is needed if violence against women is to become a rare occurrence rather than a global epidemic.
Why combating violence against women is a strategic priority
Gender inequality perpetuates violence against women, and violence against women restricts women’s ability to use their capabilities and take advantage of opportunities, thereby reinforcing gender inequality.1 Worldwide, it is estimated that violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among reproductive-age women as is cancer, and it is a more common cause of ill-health among women than traffic accidents and malaria combined.
Violence against women exists on a continuum, from domestic violence to violence as a weapon of war. It is widely recognized as an important development constraint that retards economic growth and poverty reduction (Moser and Moser 2003; Fajnzylber, Lederman, and Loayza 1998). Gender-based violence is the most widespread manifestation of the many interrelated categories of daily violence. Yet this type of violence is still relatively invisible because it typically occurs within the private sphere and is often viewed as a routine and accepted feature of male-female relationships (Kelly and Radford 1998).
Violence against women has many health consequences (Heise, Pitanguy, and Germaine 1994; World Bank 1993). Physical and sexual abuse lie behind unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and complications of pregnancy (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health 1999b). A large survey of married men in Uttar Pradesh, India, for example, showed that men who admitted to forcing their wives to have sex were 2.6 times more likely than other men to have caused an unplanned pregnancy. Abusive men were also more likely to expose their wives to sexually transmitted infections because they were also more likely than other men to have engaged in extramarital sex (Martin and others 1999). Across 13 Demographic and Health Surveys an average of 9 percent of married women with an unmet need for contraception cited their husbands’ disapproval as the main reason for not using contraception (Bongaarts and Bruce 1995).
In some cases the experience of violence can be a strong predictor of HIV. In a study in Tanzania of women who sought services at a voluntary counseling and testing service center, women who were HIV positive were 2.6 times more likely to have experienced violence in an intimate relationship than women who were HIV negative (Maman and others 2000). Moreover, violence appears to increase women’s risk of gynecological disorders, including chronic pelvic pain, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, pelvic inflammatory disease, and sexual dysfunction (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health 1999b).
Around the world studies have found that one woman in four is physically or sexually abused during pregnancy (Johns Hopkins School of Public Health 1999b). Violence before and during pregnancy can have serious health consequences for women and their children. Some studies indicate that women who are battered during pregnancy run twice the risk of miscarriage and four times the risk of having a low birth-weight baby compared with women who are not battered (Stark and others 1981; Bullock and McFarlane 1989). Violence may also be linked to a sizable portion of maternal deaths. A recent study of maternal deaths in more than 400 villages in three districts in Maharashtra, India, revealed that 16 percent of deaths during pregnancy were caused by domestic violence (Ganatra 1996).
Over and above this, evidence collected in the past decade shows that violence against women is an important development constraint.2 National governments, women’s organizations, and the United Nations now recognize that violence against women is an abuse of basic human rights and that atrocities such as rape committed against women during armed conflict are a weapon of war and a gender-based crime. Social violence in the home has been found to be correlated with economic crime outside of the home, as well as with political and institutional violence at the local and national level (Moser 2001).
This chapter focuses on two important types of violence: domestic or intimate partner violence and sexual violence by strangers or nonfamily members. Domestic or intimate partner violence occurs in the home, at the hands of intimate partners or relatives, and its manifestations include rape and other forms of sexual violence, physical violence, and psychological abuse. Sexual violence occurs within the wider community, and its manifestations include rape and sexual assault or intimidation in public spaces. Women are at increased risk of this type of violence in conflict situations. In both conflict and nonconflict settings women are primarily the victims of sexual violence and men are primarily the perpetrators.
Prevalence of violence against women
Accurate statistical data on the prevalence of gender-based violence are difficult to come by because of underreporting by victims and underrecording by police, which also mean that existing evidence most likely underestimates prevalence.3 Few national statistical bodies collect data on the topic, and few of the available studies yield information that is comparable across countries or regions.4
The population-based surveys that are available often find that violence against women cuts across socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic groups and across geographical areas.5 Evidence from diverse contexts reveals that women living in poverty are especially vulnerable to gender-based violence (WHO 2002b; KfW and City of Cape Town 2002; Bid, Nanavaty, and Patel 2002; Omorodion and Olusanya 1998), as are adolescent girls. In some countries, however, it is betteroff women who are at greater risk (Kishor and Johnson 2004).
Women are at risk of violence when carrying out essential daily activities— walking or taking public transport to work, collecting water or firewood— especially early in the morning or late at night. Using public transport can make women especially vulnerable to rape, as reported in India (Bid, Nanavaty, and Patel 2002), Papua New Guinea (Sen 1998), and Zambia, where girls are at risk of sexual abuse by school bus drivers (Human Rights Watch 2002). Secluded or unlit areas, such as isolated bus stops, public latrines, or dark places are also frequent locations of rape (KfW and City of Cape Town 2002; Louw and Shaw 1997; Human Rights Watch 1995). A study in metropolitan South Africa found that 15.5 percent of incidents of sexual abuse occurred in outdoor public places (Bollen and others 1999).
Adolescent girls are also at risk of violence, sometimes experiencing sexual violence in schools. This problem is particularly acute in Africa. An Africa Rights report identified cases of teachers gaining “sexual favors” in return for good grades in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (Omaar and de Waal 1994).
Some 10–35 percent of women in Latin America and 13–45 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced physical violence by intimate partners at some time in their lives
Studies also estimate that a third of schoolgirls in Johannesburg have been subjected to sexual violence at school (Hayward 2000).6
In 48 surveys from around the world 10–69 percent of women report having been assaulted by an intimate male partner at some time in their lives (Heise, Ellsberg, and Gottemoeller 1999). In a geographically diverse group of countries in Latin America, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and East Asia,Demographic and Health Survey interviewers asked women whether they had ever been subject to intimate partner violence or violence from any member of their community. The reported rates of violence by intimate partners or strangers are high for all countries (table 9.1). In Zambia more than half of the women surveyed and in Colombia, Haiti, and Peru more than a third reported that they had been attacked.
Some 10–35 percent of women in Latin America and 13–45 percent in SubSaharan Africa have experienced physical violence by intimate partners at some time in their lives (Buvinic, Morrison, and Shifter as cited in Morrison and Biehl 1999; Heise, Ellsberg, and Gottemoeller 1999). Smaller scale studies find similar levels of violence against women, with 67 percent in rural Papua New Guinea, reporting having been physically abused by an intimate partner, 66 percent of women in rural Bangladesh, 59 percent in Japan, 52 percent in Nicaragua, 41 percent in Uganda, 40 percent in India, and 35 percent in Egypt (Schuler, Hashemi, and Badal 1998; Sancho-Liao 1993; UNICEF 2000; ICRW 2000).
Intimate partner rape is also common. In national surveys 10–15 percent of women report having been forced to have sex with their intimate partner (Heise, Pitanguy, and Germaine 1994). Local level data reinforce this finding. A study in Guadalajara, Mexico, found that 23 percent of women reported having been the victim of a rape by a partner in their lifetime. Similar figures have been reported for Georgia, United States (42 percent); Midlands, Zimbabwe (25 percent); Lima, Peru (23 percent); and North London, England (23 percent) (WHO 2002b; Kalichan and others 1998).
Global prevalence is also high for nonfamily or stranger sexual violence, with at least one in five women suffering rape or attempted rape (WHO
|Country||Women ever beaten by anyone||Women ever beaten by a spouse or partner|
|Cambodiaa||23.4 (n = 2,403)||17.5 (n = 2,403)|
|Colombia||41.0 (n = 11,536)||44.1 (n = 7,602)|
|Dominican Republic||23.9 (n = 8,746)||22.3 (n = 6,807)|
|Egypta, b||35.0 (n = 7,123)||34.4 (n = 7,123)|
|Haiti||35.2 (n = 3,389)||28.8 (n = 2,347)|
|Indiaa||21.0 (n = 90,303)||18.9 (n = 90,303)|
|Nicaraguaa||32.6 (n = 8,507)||30.2 (n = 8,507)|
|Peru||47.4 (n = 27,259)||42.4 (n = 17,369)|
|Zambia||58.7 (n = 5,029)||48.4 (n = 3,792)|
Table 9.1 Percentage of women ages 15–49 who have experienced any violence since age 15, latest available data
a. Sample includes only women who are or have been married. b. Includes only women who have ever experienced violence since first marriage.
Source: Kishor and Johnson 2004 based on Demographic and Health Surveys.
The economic, social, and health-related costs of violence against women are thought to be substantial
1997b).7 South Africa has the highest reported rape rate, with a woman raped every 90 seconds (Coomaraswamy 1994). In Papua New Guinea one study found that 55 percent of women had been raped (IRNVAW 1998). Crime victim surveys reveal that 8 percent of women in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil report having been sexually assaulted in the previous five years, 6 percent in Tirana, Albania, and 1.6 percent in Beijing, China, (WHO 2002b). Studies also show that many young women experience forced sexual initiation, with figures at 48 percent in Caribbean countries (WHO 2002b), 21 percent in the Central African Republic (Heise, Ellsberg, and Gottemoeller 1999), and 32 percent of pregnant adolescents in an antenatal clinic in Cape Town, South Africa (Jewkes and others 2001).
An International Rescue Committee study suggests that sexual violence has been a strategy of armed conflict in virtually all recent armed conflicts (Ward 2002). Documentary evidence of this phenomenon comes from Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kuwait, South Africa, and Sudan.8 While wartime rape may be an end in itself, it can also be used as a means of subverting community bonds, both as “war booty” and “asset stripping” as in Mozambique (Turshen 2001), or as a tool of ethnic cleansing as in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Cockburn 1998), Rwanda (WHO 2002b), and Sudan (Amnesty International 2004). In postconflict contexts women are also extremely vulnerable to rape in refugee camps. One study found that 26 percent of Burundi women in a Tanzanian camp had experienced sexual violence since becoming a refugee (Nduna and Goodyear 1997). In the Rwandan camps in 1994 it was reported that virtually every woman and girl past puberty had been sexually assaulted (Coomaraswamy 1998).
The costs of violence against women
The economic, social, and health-related costs of violence against women—for women, their families, and social and economic development—are thought by many researchers to be substantial. Most of the data on the costs of violence refer to the experiences of Western industrialized countries such as Australia, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, where systems of information and services are well developed. A few recent studies, however, have estimated the costs of violence against women in countries in Latin America.
Estimates distinguish four types of costs: monetary, nonmonetary, economic multiplier effects, and social multiplier effects.9 Monetary costs refer to the monetary value of goods and services used in preventing violence, treating victims, and apprehending and prosecuting perpetrators (Buvinic and Morrison 1997). For example, the annual monetary cost of violence against women in Canada has been estimated at Can$684 million in the criminal justice system and Can$187 million for police. Counseling and training in response to violence is estimated at Can$294 million, for a total of more than Can$1 billion a year (Korf and others 1997). Table 9.2 summarizes some of the estimates of other studies.
Estimated cost of violence against women, selected countries and regions
Source: New South Wales 1991 for Australia; Greaves, Hankivsky, and KingstonRiechers 1995 for Canada; and Korf and others 1997 for the Netherlands, as cited in Buvinic and Morrison 2000.
|Region||Total estimated cost (US$ million)||Year||Type of violence||Costs included in estimate|
|New South Wales, Australia||1,000||1991||Domestic violence||Individual, government, employer and third party—health care, legal, criminal justice, social welfare, employment, child care, and housing|
|Canada||2,750||1995||Physical violence, sexual assault, rape, incest, child sexual abuse||Individual, government, and third party— social services and education, criminal justice, labor and work, health and medical|
|Netherlands||80||1997||Physical and sexual domestic violence against women||Police and justice, medical, psychosocial care, labor and
Nonmonetary costs include increased suffering, illness, and death; abuse of alcohol and drugs; and depression. A World Bank (1993) study estimated that annual rates of rape and domestic violence translated into 9 million years of disability-adjusted life years lost, including premature mortality as well as disability and illness. A study in Mexico City found violence to be the third most important cause of death among women (Lozano as cited in Morrison and Biehl 1999).
The broader economic effects of violence against women—the economic multiplier effects—include increased absenteeism; decreased labor market participation; reduced productivity; lower earnings, investment, and savings; and lower intergenerational productivity. In Chile domestic violence reduced women’s earnings by $1.56 billion in 1996, or more than 2 percent of GDP; in Nicaragua earnings were reduced by $29.5 million, or 1.6 percent of GDP (Morrison and Orlando in Morrison and Biehl 1999). In both countries abused women earned far less than other women, controlling for a number of factors likely to affect earnings. Research conducted in India estimated that women lost an average of 7 working days after an incident of violence (ICRW 2000).
Violence against women also affects their children’s schooling. A study in Nicaragua found that 63 percent of children of female victims of violence had to repeat a school year and left school an average of four years earlier than other children (Larraín, Vega, and Delgado 1997).
Social multiplier effects include the impact of violence on interpersonal relations and quality of life, such as the effect on children of witnessing violence, a reduced quality of life, and reduced participation in democratic processes. Children who witness abuse, or who are victims themselves, tend to imitate and perpetuate that behavior (Larraín, Vega, and Delgado 1997). Women who have been abused by intimate partners are socially isolated, often at the partner’s insistence. This prevents a woman from participating in community and income-earning activities, but perhaps most important, it robs her of the social interaction that might help her end the abuse (Buvinic, Morrison, and Shifter as cited in Morrison and Biehl 1999).
Sector-level interventions to address gender-based violence
Source: Moser and Moser 2003.
Interventions for combating violence against women
The scale and complexity of gender-based violence means there are no uniform global solutions to this problem. Needed are multisectoral strategies that deal with the complex and intersecting dynamics that perpetuate violence against women. Great progress has been made in the last 10 years in addressing this issue. Documentary evidence reveals an extensive rage of interventions designed to prevent gender-based violence, to support survivors of abuse, and to punish perpetrators. The effectiveness of particular interventions is, however, less well documented.
Moser and Moser (2003) classify current solutions by their objectives, level, and main type of intervention (table 9.3). Interventions may be separate gender-based violence initiatives or components of other sectoral programs. As with any categorization, these are ideal types. In reality, policymakers and practitioners are shifting toward more integrated approaches and are mainstreaming gender-based violence interventions into cross-sectoral violence reduction strategies.
Human rights instruments
In the past decade several international treaties have defined violence against women as a human rights violation. In an interpretative statement in 1992 the monitoring body of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women clarified that gender-based violence constituted discrimination and thus was covered under the convention (UN 1979), obliging signatories to report on measures to reduce gender-based violence.
|Sector policy or program||Objective in addressing gender-based violence||Level of intervention||Type of intervention|
|Human rights||Legal enforcement by states and other social actors||International||Global human rights documents and policies|
|Criminal justice||Deterrence and control||National laws||Gender-based violence laws|
|National and municipal programs||Legal reform
Conciliatory mechanisms Training of police and judiciary
Women’s police stations
|Health||Prevention and victim support||State and municipal programs||Training and procedures Crisis services for victims Programs for perpetrators|
|Education||Prevention and reduction||National, municipal, and nongovernmental organizations||School-based education programs
|Communitydriven development||Victim support and empowerment||Community, through municipal and national programs||Shelters and hotlines
Peer partnerships Community-based protection
|Conflict prevention and reconstruction||Deterrence and reduction through reconstruction activities||International, national, and municipal||UN guidelines Services for refugees|
|Urban upgrading and infrastructure||Deterrence and reduction through environmental improvements||Municipal||Land use planning Transport
Water and sanitation
In June 1993 the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action incorporated a special emphasis on gender-based violence. In December 1993 the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, addressing abuse of women at home, in the community, and by the state. It recognized the state’s duty to prevent, investigate, and punish acts of violence against women (UN 1993). These advances were reinforced by the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (UN 1995).
These treaties and policy instruments represent important achievements, and several countries have attempted to reform national laws and judicial systems to make them congruent with the international treaties. Many Latin American countries have taken steps to modify laws and policies in accordance with a regional convention, the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (Belem do Para 1994), which provided a framework for national action.
National, sectoral, and local interventions
Throughout the 1990s countries around the world adopted new legislation on intimate partner violence and reformed laws relating to rape. By 2003, 45 nations (28 in Latin America and the Caribbean) had adopted legislation against domestic violence, 21 more were drafting new laws, and many countries had amended criminal assault laws to include domestic violence (UNIFEM 2003a). This legislation broadens the definition of rape to include acts by intimate partners, reforms sentencing rules for rapists, facilitates the granting of restraining orders, and removes requirements to corroborate a victim’s account or prove her lack of consent, among others. Despite significant advances, considerable challenges remain for consistent and effective implementation and enforcement of the legislation.
Complementing national initiatives are an extensive range of interventions that target gender-based violence in specific areas.10 Criminal justice, with its emphasis on deterrence and control, is an accepted institutional approach to combating gender-based violence. Legislation criminalizing and deterring such violence—complementing national legislation—forms the top tier of criminal justice interventions. Other innovations include alternative conciliatory mechanisms, judicial and police training, and all-women police stations.
The health system is often the first entry point for victims of abuse. Most women victims of partner or sexual violence visit health care service providers but often resist contact with the police or other services (Heise, Pitanguy, and Germaine 1994). A range of interventions can provide victim support and deter additional violence, from training protocols for health care providers, integrated victim service centers, and referral systems that link health care settings with legal and law enforcement services to programs for perpetrators.
Communities play an important role in defining solutions to violence and providing support to victims and broader communications campaigns aimed at raising community awareness about the damaging effects of violence. Pamphlets, radio, television, theatre, and other public awareness media can educate and promote change by reaching large audiences. Posters can also be effective in linking those in need with service providers. After a poster campaign to combat domestic violence was launched in New York’s subways and buses, calls to the advertised hotline increased by 14 percent (UNIFEM 2001).
Communities play an important role in defining solutions to violence and providing support to victims of abuse. Crisis shelters, telephone hotlines, community-based networks, and locally devised and implemented dispute resolution processes are examples of local-level interventions.
Because violence often occurs in unsafe public spaces, interventions to improve public infrastructure can reduce violence against women. To address the problem of violence on unsafe streets and public transport, the City of Montreal introduced the Between Two Stops bus service, allowing women to get off the bus at night between bus stops if that is closer to their destination. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority implemented The Lady Bus service in 2000 in response to women’s complaints of sexual harassment and violence while commuting. The Lady Bus accepts only women passengers, and male bus drivers and conductors are directed to protect the women passengers in case of emergency. On salary payment days (the most risky period for women using public transport), every third bus is a Lady Bus—a service that will be increased if the project proves successful (UN-HABITAT 2001a). In Mumbai, India, commuter trains include women-only cars.
Women’s security while using public latrines is another important concern, not always well addressed. For instance, the sanitation component of an Oxfam urban development program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, designed latrines with inadequate doors and no electric light. Local women did not consider them safe and so did not use them (Tadele 1996). In India, by contrast, the National Slum Dwellers Federation and the women’s organization Mahila Milan built a new community toilet managed by local women on a pay-and-use system. The facilities have improved safety and cleanliness (UN-HABITAT 2001a).
Urban upgrading has been identified as an important entry point for addressing violence, including sexual abuse. In Cape Town, South Africa, the recent Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading project responds to extreme violence levels in the Khayelitsha township through an interlinked triangle of urban renewal strategies for better physical arrangements (to reduce opportunities for violence), criminal justice measures (to discourage potential violators), and public health and conflict resolution interventions (to support victims of violence; KfW and City of Cape Town 2002). The project feasibility study had demonstrated a strong relationship between levels of violence and crime and inadequate infrastructure provision. Narrow paths, open fields, distant communal latrines, unsafe transport hubs, poor lighting, empty shacks, and proximity to shebeens (bars or pubs) were found to exacerbate already high levels of rape.
Regional and global initiatives
Although the international community has rallied to address other epidemics (such as HIV and tuberculosis), it has not responded in the same way to the epidemic of violence against women. For instance, while UN General Assembly resolution 50/166 established a Trust Fund to End Violence against Women at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), country needs and requests far outstrip the fund’s current resources: the trust fund receives about $15 million in requests annually but has only $1 million to disburse. With its visibility and track record, the trust fund could serve as an important mechanism for a strong global response.
Other global initiatives have sought to change the norms that support violence against women. Two visible examples are The 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women, celebrated each year from November 25 through December 10 (International Human Rights Day), which engages tens of thousands of (mostly) women’s NGOs in nearly every country, and the VDay Campaign, which uses Valentine’s Day (February 14) to raise awareness of intimate partner violence against women.11
At the regional level the Inter-American Development Bank’s efforts to mainstream the objective of reducing violence against women in its lending operations for citizen security is a promising approach that should be replicated by other regional and international financial institutions (box 9.1). Because violence against women has high economic and social development costs, incorporating a focus on violence against women is well within the mandate of these institutions.
The task force seeks to complement the global, national, and regional efforts by calling for a new global campaign to end violence against women, spearheaded by the UN Secretary-General and endorsed by the General Assembly. The task force recommends that the campaign draw links between violence against women and women’s vulnerability in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, highlighting yet another reason to bring about the changes in attitudes and practices required to end violence against women and building on the leadership that the United Nations and the Secretary-General have already provided in the fight against the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The global campaign to end violence against women would mobilize leadership at all levels—local, national, and international—to generate action to make violence against women unacceptable. Important components would be mass media campaigns, support for collecting and analyzing country-level data on violence against women, and an infusion of resources to the UNIFEM trust fund. The trust fund could award numerous grants for evaluating and expanding local interventions, increasing the visibility of interventions that reduce the levels of violence against women, and disseminating best practices. The campaign would also call on communities and leaders to address this gross violation of women’s rights. Plans for such a campaign are already under way through the Global Coalition for Women and AIDS, established by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and its sponsoring agencies.
Mainstreaming attention to domestic violence in lending operations: six elements of Inter-American Development Bank success
Source: Prepared by Mayra Buvinic, Inter-American Development Bank 2004.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has mainstreamed the objective of reducing domestic violence against women in its lending operations for citizen security. Since 1998 the IDB has approved more than $123 million in lending for the control and prevention of violence in five countries (Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica, and Uruguay). These loans have raised substantial domestic counterpart funds in all five countries to fight violence.
Some loans integrate gender concerns in most project components, for instance, making sure that indicators for gender and domestic violence are collected in national information systems on crime and violence and that the police are trained to handle domestic violence cases (Colombia); that the court system trains judges and probation officers on intrafamily violence (Jamaica); or that the multisector models from crime prevention that are piloted on specific topics include abuse against women and children (Chile). The projects in Honduras and Uruguay include a specific component to prevent domestic violence and treat its victims. In most loans some funding goes to women’s NGOs with expertise in research, advocacy, and treatment of domestic violence against women.
How did this happen, and how can it be replicated? Six elements have contributed to the IDB’s success.
- Relevance. Latin America and the Caribbean is the second most violent region in the world (after Sub-Saharan Africa). Along with high rates of homicide, there are high rates of victimization of women and rising violence since the mid-1980s. As a result, reducing violence is a priority for citizens in the region, and there is growing awareness of violence against women, especially in the NGO sector.
- Leadership. Listening and responding to these citizen concerns, IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias, in a bold move for a development bank, launched work on violence reduction in 1996 and assigned resources to it. The IDB organized highvisibility seminars to catalyze interest in the region and undertook badly needed research. The region’s response and interest were immediate.
- Grant financing. Modest but critical grant financing was made available to undertake the work (IDB and Nordic Trust Fund monies to the IDB).
- Availability of expertise. The IDB was able to tap into local expertise in the region on domestic violence, facilitating research and project interventions.
- Research. Research showed the intrinsic as well as the instrumental value of mainstreaming attention to domestic violence in lending for violence reduction operations. It made the case that violence is mostly a learned behavior and that one of the earliest opportunities for learning violence is in the home. Thus, domestic violence is deserving of attention in its own right and as a key to preventing the transmission of violence. The research also provided a sound economic rationale for investing in domestic violence reduction operations (Morrison and Orlando as cited in Morrison and Biehl 1999).
- Openness to innovation. A new generation of IDB operations, citizen security lending, was launched in parallel with the mainstreaming efforts to emphasize violence prevention in all IDB loans. These new designs provided a unique opportunity for mainstreaming a gender perspective from the start, increasing the likelihood that this perspective would be incorporated in future designs. This last element is perhaps the most difficult to replicate because the very nature of the mainstreaming task calls for integrating new thinking into established practice.