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Create a multisectoral committee of stakeholders for coordinated action at the national and local levels

Last edited: February 25, 2011

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  • Multisectoral coordination groups should be convened at the national, sub-national and local levels to facilitate harmonization of action on violence against women and girls.   At a minimum, participants should include government officials from relevant sectors, health care providers, service providers from other key sectors, and representatives of women’s groups and other civil society organizations working on VAW.  The people involved should be senior enough to be able to make coordination-related decisions on behalf of their agencies.
  • Too often, information-sharing is perceived by coordination partners to be the primary purpose of coordination.  While information-sharing is one important aspect of coordination, it is not the only one.  Coordination is about putting in place multisectoral, inter-agency plans of action to address violence against women and girls, i.e., moving from theory to practice.  The goal of coordination is to provide accessible, prompt, confidential and appropriate services to survivors according to a basic set of guiding principles and to put in place mechanisms to prevent violence. 
  •  Those working within the health sector will want to use the coordination mechanism to support health-specific activities related to policy and programme development.  Some of the specific activities of coordination related to the health sector might include:
    • Facilitating assessments of health sector prevention and response
    • Developing and monitoring information systems for health-related data on violence against women and girls
    • Facilitating funding for health programming and administration
    • Conducting advocacy for improved programming
    • Supporting development and implementation of policies, protocols and other tools related to health sector response to violence against women and girls.
    • Coordinating networks and coalitions within the health sector and across other sectors for referrals and support.
    • Monitoring service delivery in terms of both availability and quality


  • In order to promote coordination at all levels, coordination leaders must be identified and their responsibilities delineated.  Clear roles and procedures should be developed for each sector and shared across agencies and sectors.  To ensure sustainability and encourage government accountability and action, it is preferable in most settings for government to facilitate and oversee coordination. Often, coordination mechanisms are led by the ministry or institution responsible for overseeing the country’s violence against women programme.  Ideally leadership of any coordination mechanism would be defined by a terms of reference and activities of the coordination group guided by an action plan. 
  • There should also be structures and protocols for linking national coordination mechanisms with sub-national and local mechanisms, as these coordination bodies often have different but mutually reinforcing responsibilities:  the national coordination mechanisms may work on the “bigger picture”—including national-level advocacy, data collection and management, national policies and protocols, etc.) and the sub-national and local coordination mechanisms may work more on operational guidance and oversight of service delivery.  Methods should be established to regularly share information among various levels of coordination groups through established channels of communication.
Example:  The Partnerships against Domestic Violence Programme of Australia
This model initiative is a collaborative effort between the Australian Government and the States and Territories, as well as the business sector, non-governmental organizations and the community. Key projects include: community education campaigns; national competency standards for workers dealing with domestic violence; prevention workshops for young people; a clearing house for information and best practices; and perpetrators’ programmes. A range of events nationwide has allowed local, regional and national dissemination of knowledge about new finding in domestic violence research, policy and programmes. Current work includes addressing the impact of domestic violence on children; strengthening perpetrators’ programmes; and community education for a range of audiences, including indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities (Excerpted from Commonwealth Secretariat, 2003. Integrating Approaches to Eliminating Gender-based Violence, pg. 25). 
See a description of the Partnership Project as well as other national initiatives to address domestic violence in Australia.


Case Study: Project for the Comprehensive Care of Sexual Violence Survivors/Proyecto de Atención Integral a Víctimas Sobrevivientes de Violencia Sexual (Ipas and Marie Stopes, Bolivia)

In Bolivia, a fairly solid legal framework and the broad provision of services (medical, legal  and psychosocial) by NGOs, private institutions and government provided a strong foundation for improving coordinated services for survivors of sexual assault. Several organizations, including UNFPA supported a mapping and situation analysis to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the existing service delivery models. The findings pointed to areas of need and identified entry points for developing an integrated and comprehensive response model. In this context, Ipas Bolivia and Marie Stopes embarked on a project from 2005 to 2008 to implement a model based on an integrated and comprehensive approach, with the aims to reduce sexual violence and its consequences, and to empower survivors to exercise their rights and demand access to quality health and legal services.

The model’s principles included:

  • A victim services network for shared understanding of an intersectoral approach between key sectors, namely justice, social support, health, education and NGO.
  • An interdisciplinary team that could deliver integrated services.
  • Strengthened social and institutional networks for prevention.
  • Quality care standards across all stakeholders.

Through the project’s advocacy a National Committee to Combat Sexual Violence was established, comprising more than 30 government institutions, NGOs and civil society tasked with improving national policies on the issue. The coordination mechanism was led by the Department of Justice and Rights, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Gender, the police, Ipas and Plan International. The Committee’s work yielded an agreed “Declaration on Integrated Attention to Sexual Violence”, solidifying state commitment to this approach at both national and sub-national levels.

To operationalize the commitment, “work tables” were established were key stakeholders would come together to discuss, reflect and design coordinated strategies to ensure the delivery of comprehensive services.

This process was complemented by a large-scale social media campaign, “sexual violence affects all” delivered in Spanish, Quechue and Aymara and tailored to different audiences and contexts.  Journalists and the media were also an important target group for training and sensitization.

For additional information, see the full case study on Bolivia in Spanish.

For additional information on good practices and lessons learned in providing comprehensive care to survivors of sexual violence, see the case study on Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico in Spanish.

Case Study:  National Task Force for the Comprehensive Care of Family Violence in Peru

In Peru, national ministries, civil society, and international agencies convened to develop a national model for prevention of and attention to family and gender-based violence. Through the formation of the Mesa Nacional Multisectorial para la Atencion Integral de la Violencia Familiar (National Task Force for the Comprehensive Care of Family Violence) they have achieved a coordinated, sustainable approach to these issues. Additionally, the coordination of the members’ contributions and expertise has resulted in greater quality and efficiency of the programmes and policies that address gender-based violence. Accordingly, the Mesa has facilitated training programmes for health and other sector providers and has established a national database of information, research, and surveillance results. The model of the Mesa nacional has been replicated in 18 departments (states) and in many of their respective communities. During this process, the various sectors have been able to overcome many long-standing obstacles and work together to support and care for those affected by violence. The decentralized Mesas have raised their communities’ awareness about the existence of violence and have provided incentives to overcome this problem. Their efforts have been strengthened by regular sharing of lessons learned and best practices among communities and departments.  Beginning in 1997, a number of communities started self-help groups of women affected by violence. Through the coordinated efforts of their Mesas, member institutions facilitated the training of these groups’ coordinators from Lima, Cuzco, and Plura, which resulted in the formation of more than 40 women’s men’s and mixed groups that involved approximately 5000 participants per year, the majority of whom are women.  Throughout this process the Pan American Health Organization has played a leadership role in consensus-building, the formation of Mesa working groups, and the creation of community self-help groups.More information is available about the Mesas and multisectoral efforts to address domestic violence in Spanish. See also Peru’s national action plan on violence against women (2009-2015).  Available in Spanish. Source: excerpted from Velzeboer, M., Ellsberg, M., Arcas, C., and Garcia-Moreno, C., 2003. Violence against Women: The Health Sector Responds. Washington, DC: PAHO, pg.34.

Illustrative Tools:

Bridging Gaps—From Good Intention to Good Cooperation (Women Against Violence Europe, 2006).      This manual is a resource for service providers across sectors addressing violence against women. The manual offers guidance and recommendations on multi-agency cooperation in the protection of domestic violence survivors. The manual is organized into 15 chapters covering: background information on violence against women; multi-sector service provision and multi-agency cooperation; general and sector-specific standards for practice; violence prevention and safety planning; survivor involvement in programmes; actions and models for multi-agency cooperation. Available in English; 116 pages.

Guidelines on Coordinating GBV Interventions in Humanitarian Settings (Ward, J./GBV Area of Responsibility, 2010).  Available in English.

Additional Resources:

Council of Europe General Recommendation, 2002. Rec 5, para. 27 and the Benefits of Coordination. Available in English, French and German.

Community of Practice in Building Referral Systems for Women Victims of Violence (Jennings, M./UNRWA, 2010). Available in English.