Gender-based Violence

Overall Goal: The goal of the GBV programme 5 is for all women and girls to live lives free from all forms of violence. NCA has focused on addressing intimate partner violence, sexual violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriages, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation and abuse. The programme’s ambitions align with multiple SDGs, and SDG 5 in particular.

Problem analysis: Gender based violence (GBV) is a leading cause of death and disability in women of all ages6. Violence due to gender affects women at all stages of life, from son preference, to child, early and forced marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)7, sexual violence, rape and human trafficking. GBV, whether occurring at home or in society, hinders the enjoyment of a range of human rights. It is a barrier to women's equal right to participation, citizenship, access to and control over resources, livelihood and to gender equality.

Implementing Countries


Outcome 1

Dominant social norms protected girls and women from GBV

In Pakistan, 630 religious leaders (30 female) honoured their commitment to oppose GBV by discouraging communities from forced/early child marriage (ECM) and deciding in favour of women in inheritance cases. Religious leaders delivered more than 3,864 sermons and statements against GBV. 

Outcome 2

Communities and faith actors committed to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Early child marriage (ECM)

The support of faith leaders to end FGM and ECM is crucial in the countries where NCA works. This support is dependent on buy-in from the faith leaders, as well as a common understanding of what constitutes GBV. 

Outcome 3

Laws, policies and budgets to end GBV improved and implemented

In South Sudan, 30 police and military officers were trained by NCA partner Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI) on the roles and responsibilities of security officers in GBV prevention and response. Following the training, these officers were able to provide greater safety and security to GBV survivors, as well as referrals to legal services, which has resulted in a steady increase in the number of GBV cases reported to police.

Outcome 4

Women and girl GBV survivors safely accessed adequate and appropriate support services

All GBV programme countries saw increases in both the reporting of GBV cases and identification of new referral pathways to support GBV survivors. Close cooperation with local authorities, health staff, police and the legal system was key to delivering these services. 

Outcome 5

Women’s participation in decision-making processes increased

In Pakistan, 165 trained women are now elected representatives in local governments and official bearers of political party units at the Union Council level. These women are leading significant initiatives including support to communities in cases of sexual harassment, FECM and rape.

Key innovations from the programme area

In Somalia, NCA integrated GBV, education and WASH interventions through the distribution of dignity/hygiene kits to school girls reaching puberty. Keeping girls in school is a protection measure against harmful practices like ECM, and in some cases FGM. Additionally, a multi-year assessment concluded in 2017 indicated that livelihood support for survivors of GBV had been identified as a unique element of NCA’s GBV programming, and it was recommended that Somalia increase the options

In Zambia, the JCP, in cooperation with the Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA), piloted a new working methodology/platform entitled “Changing Communities One Family at a Time” in the Kalamo District. This initiative aimed at reducing school dropout rates due to ECM and teen pregnancies. The approach was centred on behaviour change at the family level, with strong community support and ownership. Community members were mobilised into Community Action Groups (CAGs) as support structures and to act as watchdogs. NCA and FAWEZA worked closely with the school administration and traditional leaders to identify and select at-risk families in schools with high drop rates. Community members were mobilised and sensitised on the harmful effects of ECM using an inclusive participatory approach that provided a platform for community members to engage in fruitful conversations about the drivers of ECM. Action plans were then developed with community participation and ownership over the process.

Lessons Learned and Adaptation

While NCA has made progress in interaction with religious and traditional leaders towards the total abandonment of FGM and ECM, there continues to be a need to improve efforts to give both acute and long-term support to survivors of GBV. In areas where there is a lack of safe havens, robust referral pathways, and psychosocial support, GBV survivors are often forced to return to unsafe situations, which greatly undermines the recovery process. NCA has therefore learned that it must improve upon and expand existing referral pathway and community support structures, while also cooperating with relevant legal and health authorities.

In Somalia and Ethiopia, a MTR revealed that Muslim religious leaders and communities who had supported total abandonment of FGM, had not considered the sunna type of FGM to be included within the definition of FGM. Therefore, NCA and partners’ data on the practice and prevalence of FGM in Muslim communities, as well as attitudes of the communities and traditional leaders, was incomplete. Going forward, NCA will use the community conversation approach to engage religious and community leaders to also denounce sunna, and advocate for total abandonment of FGM.

Results case

Trafficking law to end violence on women and girls in Malawi

Prior to March 2015, Malawi did not have a human trafficking law in place and was rated a tier 2 country in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)8