kNOwVAWdata Project Launch

A new initiative to reduce the incidence of violence against women in the Asia Pacific region will be lead by Dr Kristin Diemer and Dr Cathy Vaughan from University of Melbourne.

On Thursday 19 October, a key regional partnership to strengthen the measurement of violence against women across Asia and the Pacific was launched by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Regional Office and a consortium from the University of Melbourne and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS).

This partnership, supported by Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will improve the availability and quality of data to inform more effective policy and programme responses to prevent and end violence against women.

In countries across Asia and the Pacific, surveys have indicated that between 15  and 68 percent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner. A number of countries in the region still lack data on the prevalence of violence against women – and many governments do not yet have the ability to measure it accurately and safely.

Gathering data on the prevalence of violence against women with integrity requires a nuanced approach to protect the well-being and dignity of both the interviewees and interviewers.

“We obtain information by interviewing women who may be survivors of violence, in person. And we find that women who have experienced violence often times want to share their stories with our carefully trained interviewers – and many even feel relief afterward,” said UNFPA researcher and kNOwVAWdata technical lead, Dr Henrica (Henriette) Jansen.

Part of the partnership involves working with countries in the Asia-Pacific region as they plan, conduct and interpret national violence against women prevalence surveys. The University of Melbourne and ANROWS, together with a network of qualified violence against women data experts will provide training to collect national prevalence data that inform policies, programs and services while also providing  students with hands-on research experience.

Curriculum development

The curriculum is based on internationally recognised national violence against women prevalence survey methodologies – the World Health Organization (WHO) Multi-Country Study and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Domestic Violence Module – enabling global comparison of national survey data.  The course will be offered as part of the University of Melbourne’s graduate studies and summer programme.

Ultimately, the partners intend to expand the curriculum to additional academic institutions in both Asia and the Pacific and other regions.

By directly involving national governments and non-government stakeholders, the partnership aims to secure long term commitments to ongoing violence against women data monitoring from those who collect violence against women data and those who use it to influence policies and programs.

kNOwVAWdata is a DFAT funded UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office initiative to develop sustained regional capacity through the development and implementation of a sound training curriculum and to build a committed pool of trained professionals and researchers on the measurement of violence against women in Asia and the Pacific region.

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Ruth Hentschel -