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Baseline studies

Last edited: December 21, 2011

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The specific baseline data collected will depend on the goals of the programme to be implemented. Baseline studies of the informal justice sector and violence against women should consider gathering data about:

  • Prevalence of violence against women and girls, including prevalence of specific types of violence in the target community
  • Characteristics of women and girls experiencing the highest rates of violence
  • Characteristics of perpetrators engaging in violent behaviour
    • Key stakeholders include women and girls, informal justice practitioners, advocates and civil society leaders, men, elders, faith leaders
  • Attitudes of key stakeholders about remedies for violence against women and girls
  • Number of cases of violence against women moving through the informal system
  • Informal practitioners’ knowledge of human rights principles and obligations
  • Description of the typical handling of a case of violence against women in the informal system, including roles, participation of women, survivor support, record keeping, types of remedies available
  • Description of the interaction between the formal and informal system
  • Description of availability, quality, and costs of legal and advocacy services for survivors
  • Description of availability, quality, and costs of other services for survivors, including shelter, accompaniment and social support, or financial support

Uganda – Measuring Awareness of Human Rights of Women and Children

The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative focuses on access to justice for socially deprived women and children in 6 districts in Uganda. In 2009, the group conducted a baseline study in one of the six provinces to gather initial data about human rights violations against its focus population. The study used key informant interviews, focus groups, and review of other reports to gather data for its baseline report. The baseline study documented the large gap between urban and rural residents related to human rights awareness, and also documented the perceptions of community members and stakeholders relative to redress mechanisms for violence against women.

Survey instruments and focus group guides from FHRI are available in the appendices of their Baseline Study Report.


Source: Foundation for Human Rights Initiative.

DRC – Baseline Study on Engaging Men to Change Attitudes

Women for Women International runs a Men’s Leadership Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo that focused on changing gender norms as well as community attitudes around justice for sexual violence, including those of legal system leaders. The programme was the result of an evaluation of programming targeting women only. During the evaluation, women asked for assistance in working with the men in their communities to change attitudes. At the beginning of the Men’s Leadership Program, Women for Women International conducted a baseline survey with 392 male community leaders culled from five key sectors: government, religious, traditional, security—including the police and military—and civil society. The survey revealed a high level of agreement among respondents about the need for communities and civil society organizations to be actively involved in the reintegration of survivors of gender-based violence. The men surveyed, however, were deeply divided in the ways they perceived the status of women, their roles in society and male authority. For example, 56.2% of respondents agreed with the statement “There is little that women have to contribute to community reconstruction and development.” And 86.3% of respondents agreed with the statement that “Men are the heads of households and the wives must obey and submit to them,” an attitude that clearly results in violations of women’s human rights. The data from the baseline study was later compared with an external evaluation at the end of the project. The evaluation revealed some changes, especially at the level of individual relationship between men and women in the community. But the evaluation also revealed that long-held beliefs about the role of women change slowly.


Source: Women for Women International. 2007. Ending Violence Against Women in Eastern Congo.

Data Collection and Indigenous Peoples

Many informal sector initiatives work with indigenous communities. Data collection related to violence against indigenous women should comply with the recommendations of the Expert Workshop on Data Collection and Disaggregation for Indigenous Peoples (International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI), 2006), which calls for data collection methods that:

  • respect the principles of self-determination and free, prior, and informed consent;
  • incorporate Indigenous Peoples as equal partners in all stages of data collection, including planning, implementation, analysis, and dissemination, with appropriate resourcing and capacity-building to enable Indigenous Peoples to participate effectively;
  • are conducted in Indigenous languages to the extent possible and, where no written  language exits, employ local Indigenous persons as translators, interpreters, and advisors to assist in the collection processes;
  • include indicators of particular significance to Indigenous Peoples, such as access to territories and natural resources;
  • analyze data in ways that account for the full diversity and demographic profile of Indigenous communities, including gender and stage of life, as well as people with disabilities, and Indigenous Peoples in rural and urban areas, including Peoples who are nomadic, semi-nomadic, migrating, in transition, and displaced; and
  • recognize that the process of data collection is critical to the empowerment of communities and to identifying their needs, and respect Indigenous Peoples’ right to have data (primary and aggregated) returned to them, for their own use.