Violence against women

Sarah Kahn, Summer Lindsey and I worked with SDD direct and city governments in Madhya Pradesh to examine strategies employed by the city government to try to reduce both intimate partner violence and public violence against women and girls (VAWG).

States often try to change social norms but it is unclear whether they are effective at it. In this case the city governments are using two types of intervention, one material and the other more social. The social interventions are broadly considered to be best practice interventions in the field and here we are seeking to assess their effect when implemented at a relatively wide scale — across 250 slums — and in various combinations. One arm focuses on efforts to strengthen women’s economic associations, on the theory that economic empowerment may play direct effects in improving the position of women. Two other arms focus on social interventions and trainings. One aims to increase the capacity of women’s groups to understand the root causes and trigger factors related to VAWG and to take action to prevent and respond to them. Another works with men and boys groups, focusing on life skills training, awareness raising and events on gender, VAWG and alcohol abuse with the others in the group.

We are particularly interested in how these interventions affect norms around violence. Beyond personal attitudes do they affect how people think others think about these issues? Or how they think others act? Are these changes enough to lay the foundations for broader collective action to shift social norms against VAWG?