The global reproductive rights community is reeling with the tragic and untimely death of Jennifer Schlecht on November 6, 2019. A devoted and dedicated friend to women and girls everywhere, Schlecht had spent her entire career fostering family planning efforts for women across the globe. In recent years, she directed special attention to the need to provide family planning services for women drawn into humanitarian crises.
In April of 2018, Jennifer Schlecht took a new position as Senior Advisor on Emergency Preparedness and Response at Family Planning 2020. For Family Planning 2020, housed under the umbrella of United Nations Foundation’s activities, Schlecht collaborated with CARE on these issues as well as the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crisis.
With gender-based violence still a major barrier to women’s equality and empowerment, funders are starting to put more money toward prevention internationally.
The World Bank Group recently announced, in partnership with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI), ten awards of up to $150,000 each to organizations who will prevent and respond to gender-based violence worldwide. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, in announcing the grants, said another $3.5 million will also be invested in the cause of ending physical and sexual violence against women.
An estimated 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, a staggering statistic that speaks to the pervasiveness of the problem. “Gender-based violence thrives on secrecy and indifference with devastating consequences,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said upon announcing the grants. “We cannot stand by while so many women suffer harm that’s completely preventable.”
In 2015, the World Bank Group created an agenda for gender equality, in concert with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which were centered around gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. The World Bank Group sees gender equality as closely tied to its own goals of ending extreme poverty.
The grants will go to organizations in a wide range of countries including Peru, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Pakistan. These grants were chosen from over 200 proposals to an open call made in July of 2016.
SVRI started making global grants to address gender-based violence in 2014, when it awarded $1 million to 9 projects in 7 countries. These grants are helping to identify effective programs and policies that will reduce gender-based violence and provide models for others to learn from.
SVRI uses a number of strategies to address gender-based violence including hosting an international Forum every two years, which helps to to advance and disseminate research on sexual and intimate partner violence globally.
Sexual Harassment Among Jordanian College Students: Pilot Testing a Promising Primary Prevention Intervention (Jordan, Middle East/ NorthAfrica) Team: Information and Research Center – King Hussein Foundation and Emory University
Gender Equity Model – Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment and Fighting Gender-Based Violence (Egypt, Middle East/North Africa) Team: The American University of Cairo
Gender-based Violence Prevention in the Amazon of Peru Project (Peru, Latin America) Team: University College London; and, DB Peru
Building the Evidence Base for ‘Safe Families’ – a Comprehensive Community-led model for Violence Prevention in Solomon Islands. (Solomon Islands, East Asia) Team: The Equality Institute; Oxfam Solomon Islands; Oxfam Australia
Combatting Sexual Violence in Kyrgyzstan through Innovative Education and Information Technology (Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia) Team: American University of Central Asia (AUCA)
Building Research Capacity and Data Use for Gender-Based Violence prevention and Response in Adolescents/Young Adults (Nigeria, Africa) Team: Together for Girls
Mapping for Policy (Pakistan, South Asia) Team: The Urban Institute and, Information Technology University Data Science Lab in Pakistan
Building the Evidence to Understand and Prevent Campus Sexual Assault in Swaziland (Swaziland, Africa) Team: University of Swaziland and The Regents of the University of California, San Diego
Development of Standard Measures to Support Gender-Based Cyber Violence (GBCV) Prevention (Uganda, Africa) Team: International Center for Research for Women
Piloting a Customizable, User-Designed Information and Communication Technology-based Approach to Reduce Intimate Partner Violence among Refugees (Dollo Ado refugee camps in Ethiopia, Africa) Team: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and, Addis Ababa University School of Public Health
One area of philanthropy that impacts women heavily is philanthropy aimed at ending sexual and domestic violence, now also called “gender-based violence.”
An encouraging sign in this arena is the NFL’s recent multiyear commitment of $10 million to a group of affiliated organizations in order to pursue the goal of “ending gender-based violence in one generation.”
Earlier this week, Raliance.org announced the kick-off ThisGEN Youth Summit, bringing together high school students from across the country to build advocacy in the fight to end gender-based violence.
Raliance.org serves as the central hub for three top organizations in the country working to end sexual violence: the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA)-PreventConnect and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV). Other support for this event came from The Close-Up Foundation and It’s on Us.
From the press release:
Eighty high school sophomores and juniors from 25 states and Washington, D.C. will engage in leadership and learning opportunities to explore efforts to stop gender-based violence.Students will learn to use social media and messaging to change public opinion and discourse; to leverage the influence of sports and athletes; and to catalyze individuals through community organizing and advocacy to end gender-based violence. The five-day event (March 6-10) culminates in a march and rally on Capitol Hill where participants will declare their specific calls to action to propel the movement forward."Educating, engaging and empowering students alongside Raliance to become active in our mission of shifting the way that people think about sexual assault is truly an honor," said Rebecca Kaplan, Director, It's On Us. "We hope that attendees will bring what they learn back to their high schools and host It's On Us Spring Week of Action events this April."The ThisGEN Youth Summit, made possible through seed funding for Raliance from the National Football League (NFL), aims to help today’s youth leaders build a culture that sees the value and dignity of every person and eradicates gender-based violence. Gender-based violence refers to abuse within unequal relationships between men and women and broadly encompasses acts that result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering. Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lifetime.For more information about the ThisGEN Youth Summit, visit: www.raliance.org.
The murder of two women joggers in the past week has focused new attention on sexual violence against women. Over the past few years, this issue has been on the agendas of several key sectors of society—including universities, which have grappled with campus sexual assaults; professional sports, where top players have stood accused of attacks; and the military, where rape is common.
Philanthropy is another sector paying attention, with new sources of funding appearing in recent years.
Last year, we mentioned that a documentary on campus sexual assault, The Hunting Ground, had inspired a funding effort that includes resources at NEO Philanthropy, an intermediary that works with both funders and nonprofits. It’s not clear how much money that effort has raised, or what these funds have been used for. What is clear that the film brought major attention to campus sexual assault, an issue that has drawn in other funders, too—most notably the Avon Foundation, as we’ve reported.