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Participatory Data Collection Approaches

Last edited: January 06, 2020

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A participatory research approach is an essential component of feminist research, ensuring women and girls have an active role in asking and answering questions about their own lives and the issues that affect them. This remains crucial for research conducted in conflict and post-conflict settings. A participatory approach includes involving beneficiaries in the design and implementation of the research, as well as in the interpretation and use of findings; establishing a co-learning process; including systems development and local capacity building; and creating an empowering process which validates participants’ experiences, ideas and opinions. A participatory research approach allows the researcher to engage with conflict-affected women and girls in dialogues where they make the decisions about what emotional details, preferences, and motivations to explore. Participants direct the process of conceptualizing potential solutions to minimize the risks of violence they experience in their daily lives.


A participatory approach also includes using participatory data collection techniques.  These methods can help break down cultural barriers between researchers and respondents and provide compelling visuals to express the experiences and beliefs of respondents. Some common participatory methods in the VAWG field that are useful in conflict and post-conflict research include: free listing and ranking; incomplete stories and Venn diagrams; community timelines; body mapping; social and community mapping; and photo voice.


For more information of these methods see Chapter 9  Ellsberg and Heise (2005) or Chapter 10 of GWI’s Gender-Based Violence Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation with Refugee and Conflict-Affected Populations: A Manual and Toolkit for Researchers and Practitioners (2018).