In spite of the growing body of evidence that violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a serious human rights and development issue, there remains a paucity of evaluations of the impact of interventions in this area (particularly the impact on girls).
The majority of evaluations of programmes to prevent or tackle VAWG take the form of qualitative, input or process-level assessments, as opposed to approaches that measure the outcomes or impact for beneficiaries. Many also measure change at the individual level but not at the community level.
Of the limited number of impact evaluations that exist, few use participatory tools with beneficiaries. Even when participatory methodologies are used as part of an initiative to tackle or prevent VAWG, the evaluation itself may stick to standard quantitative and qualitative tools to examine impact.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of examples of rigorous impact evaluations which have used participatory methodologies as part of an integrated approach to program evaluation that involves the triangulation of data sources. One of the most rigorously evaluated and successful programmes to tackle VAW is South Africa’s Intervention with Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) programme. This study is one of few randomised control trials to evaluate a violence prevention programme.
The SASA! evaluation in Uganda also deploys participatory methodologies alongside quantitative and other qualitative methods.
Another, more recent, impact evaluation strategy involving participatory methodologies is the Safe Cities Global Programme, including projects in five cities, Cairo, Kigali, New Delhi, Port Moresby and Quito (2010-15).
There is clearly scope for further inclusion of participatory approaches in rigorous evaluations of VAWG interventions. Through the use of participatory methods, evaluations can help triangulate data to validate and explore findings in greater depth, as well as allowing for the voices of less powerful groups, particularly women survivors of violence, to be heard throughout the process.