Introducing ICRW’s new violence against women self assessment tool

Article Date

24 February 2015

Article Author

Brian Heilman

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

If you are familiar with the International Center for Research on Women, then you have probably heard the phrase “Where Insight and Action Connect.” I’ve always felt that those five words do a great job of summarizing the value of ICRW’s work. And our new Violence Against Women (VAW) Self-Assessment Tool is a fantastic new example of Insight and Action connecting.

Practitioners and activists in our field are often caught up in the urgency to address violence against women and rarely have the opportunity to take a step back and deeply reflect on our efforts, the design of our programs, what is working well and what can be improved. This tool is meant to serve as this much needed break to assess our efforts and deeply reflect on institutional practices in order to enhance our efforts to end VAW.

We began this undertaking over three years ago, by convening a global advisory group of experts in VAW prevention and response. In the time since, we strove to develop the most concise, comprehensive, and useful tool possible to help our VAW partners move forward with renewed self-awareness and confidence. We had the opportunity to field test two intermediate drafts of the tool with partners in East Africa, learning valuable insights about partners’ preferred format for such a process.

Because of this in-depth, collaborative, multi-year effort, we’re confident that the version of the VAW Self-Assessment Tool we are releasing publicly is a tremendously useful process for a wide range of organizations addressing VAW. The tool helps any organization working to address VAW around the world reflect on how their work compares to current evidence of the most effective and ethical practice. But just as importantly, it helps organizations do so in an open, reflective, supportive atmosphere – one focused on highlighting and boosting each organization’s strengths rather than merely pointing out criticisms or comparing them unfavorably to other organizations.

Assessment items address seven different strategies of VAW programming: (1) Community Mobilization; (2) Health and Social Support Services; (3) Legal Aid; (4) Advocacy; (5) Media & Communications; (6) Capacity Building; and (7) Partnerships.

We have seen firsthand that VAW programmers and activists emerge from this process with a better understanding of their organization’s specific strengths, opportunities for improvement, and goals for the upcoming years, all based on the current state of evidence of VAW work. The process is internally oriented and reflective, rather than externally oriented and competitive. The tool does not make crude comparisons between organizations, as ICRW does not store or access any organization’s assessment result.

Rather, the process grants these programmers (whom we can think of as “Action”) easy access to the highlights of several years of “Insight,” presented in a streamlined, participatory process. As a result, each organization will better understand how they can make adjustments to better reflect international evidence of effective, ethical practice.

This is just one example of how ICRW turns insight into action. The VAW Self-Assessment tool can also be found in PDF form in English and in Spanish.