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Special considerations in monitoring and evaluating VAW campaigns

VAW is a sensitive issue both at the societal level and at the individual level. It is imperative that ethical principles inform all research on the issue, especially when interacting with VAW survivors (see also Guiding Principles).

Bear in mind:

  • To avoid undue stress for VAW survivors, existing research on VAW should be carefully reviewed before any decision is made to launch any campaign-specific surveys or start organizing interviews with survivors.
  • Campaigns on VAW tend to increase demand for direct support to VAW survivors, as women who have not dared to report their experience of VAW may feel encouraged to seek support. This also applies to survivors who may have taken part in campaign M&E surveys or interviews. It is critical that survivors and other community members have access to minimum services (health, protection and legal) or referrals to get the support they may need, in line with ethical standards.
  • When talking to members of the target audience, it is important to remember that many interlocutors may have personal experience with VAW, as a survivor, bystander or perpetrator. It is essential to adhere to high ethical standards (e.g. safety, confidentiality), such as those detailed in the PATH/WHO guide for researchers and activists: Researching Violence against Women (Ellsberg, M. & Heise, L., PATH/WHO, 2005). See also Research ethics in the Campaign Planning section of this module.
  • As VAW is a socially sensitive topic, respondents are likely to answer questions according to what they think is socially desirable or acceptable. That means that they may say what they believe the interviewers want to hear, and what is most acceptable in their social environment or community. When designing questionnaires, the extent to which this may happen needs to be assessed – in research on VAW-related issues, it is always a potential challenge. Rephrasing questions or even repeating them in different ways can be a means of mitigating the risk of obtaining unreliable data.

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