Intersections of violence against women and girls with state-building and peace-building: Lessons from Nepal, Sierra Leone and South Sudan

This  study, part of DFID’s What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls research program,  focused on three countries, Nepal, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone, and reviewed how different  forms and drivers of violence against women and girls (VAWG) have been addressed by national and international actors in state building and peace building processes in  these three countries. The study sought to systematically assess and synthesize existing evidence of the impacts of state building and peace building related  to VAWG. It considered a range of forms of VAWG, including but not limited to, conflict-related and other forms of sexual violence, intimate partner violence,  forced/early marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting. Where possible, the study captured information on how specific interventions within the state and  peacebuilding process (e.g., security and justice sector reform, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, promoting political participation and accountable governance, economic/livelihoods activities, trauma healing and psychosocial activities or community-level reconciliation/conflict resolution interventions, etc.) impacted VAWG. A conflict analysis lens was applied during data analysis to ensure that factors related to specific characteristics of conflict, which determine the impact of state- and peace-building processes on VAWG were identified. This assisted in making recommendations to improve the impact of  state- and peace-building processes on VAWG. The results of a semi-structured survey allowed us to analyze the perceived importance and relevance of different regional and international recommendations. The study created and used a model for data triangulation to ensure confidence in the findings.

Key findings include:

  • Rates of VAWG, including forms of violence not traditionally considered conflict-related, are high during and after periods of conflict and have lasting effects on the lives of women and girls. However, VAWG is often insufficiently addressed in state-building and peace-building efforts.
  • VAWG and conflict can have many common causes and drivers, including patriarchy and gender discrimination, that impact peace and conflict at all levels.
  • Women are frequently excluded from both peace processes and wider political participation in conflict and post-conflict settings. Institutions that work on women’s rights (government and civil society) play a significant role in efforts to eliminate VAWG and in the advancement of more peaceful societies.
  • The post-conflict period provides an opportunity to advance policy and legal frameworks addressing VAWG. However, despite progress in policy and legal reform, state-run services necessary to address and reduce VAWG are insufficient in post-conflict contexts, reducing trust in and legitimacy of state service providers.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.