The What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Programme is a flagship programme from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which is investing £25 million over five years to the prevention of violence against women and girls.
It supports primary prevention efforts across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, that seek to understand and address the underlying causes of gender-based violence, and to stop it from occurring.
In Rwanda, What Works is supporting the Indashyikirwa project (meaning "champions of change" in Kkinyarwanda), which aims to change community social norms and behaviours that perpetuate gender inequality and gender-based violence (GBV).
What works has teamed up with Laterite to deliver a rigorous evaluation of the Indashyikirwa project.
A key challenge in all research related to gender-based violence, is how can researchers can study highly sensitive topics in a way that is unobtrusive and that makes respondents feel comfortable enough to share their true experiences and opinions without fear of judgement?
Laterite has supported this evaluation by rolling out one of Rwanda’s first ever voice-assisted surveys on a sample of over 1,600 couples and 3,000 community members.
We used ACASI software loaded on iPod touch devices to conduct this survey. The questions were verbally recorded in Kinyarwanda. The software reads the question and response options aloud, along with the number that corresponds with each option. The respondent then touches the appropriate answer on the screen.
Self-reporting takes away the potential discomfort and bias caused by talking directly to an enumerator, and voice assistance offers the possibility of collecting data from populations with low levels of literacy.
Voice-assisted surveys take the interviewer out of the survey process, allowing the respondent a level of confidentiality and anonymity they would otherwise not have. Voice assistance also allows for self-reporting among low literacy populations.
There is a growing body of evidence which suggests self-completion specifically increases disclosure rates in studies on gender-based violence.
This is one of the few times in a development context that data has been collected from both the male and female perspectives within couples, providing a very rich dataset for researchers to work with.
Laterite also ensured that both survey teams and respondents had access to a therapist for psychological support during the roll-out of the project, because the topics covered are deeply sensitive
Early returns from the baseline and midline show that audio-assisted surveys are working well: even in the most remote areas of the country, the vast majority of people were able to complete the surveys on their own.
The outcome of this study will be: (i) new evidence on how an innovative intervention is affecting gender-based violence, with perspectives from both males and females within couples; and (ii) new evidence on the gender dynamics within couples and communities in Rwanda, using a very rich dataset, where results are self-reported.