The Women’s Justice and Empowerment Initiative: Lessons Learned and Implications for Gender-Based Violence Programming in Sub-Saharan Africa
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Author(s): Arnoff E, Hill L, Bloom SS, Maman S
The Women’s Justice and Empowerment Initiative (WJEI) was a three-year, 55-million-dollar program to bolster women’s justice and empowerment in four sub-Saharan African countries from 2008–2011: South Africa, Zambia, Benin and Kenya. The four countries were selected because they had already demonstrated governmental commitment to combat gender-based violence (GBV) within their respective settings. The program was designed to raise awareness, improve the capacity in these countries to investigate and prosecute perpetrators, and assist female survivors of rape and abuse. The program was implemented slightly differently in each of the four contexts, but the three major components were:
- Raise the awareness of GBV: This component sought to increase the awareness of the prevalence of GBV, care and support resources available to survivors; enhance public policy and laws regarding women’s rights; assist communities to overcome the barriers to recognizing GBV as a problem and ultimately contribute to changing peoples’ behavior related to GBV incidents, care and support, and accepting attitudes towards GBV.
- Improve the ability to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate GBV cases: This component sought to strengthen the capacity of legal systems to protect women from violence and to punish violators. Activities in this component were focused on increasing the capacity of the police, prosecutors, and judges to understand and combat criminal conduct associated with GBV. Efforts were also directed towards teaching how to conduct effective investigations and use forensic techniques.
- Provide victims with medical, psychosocial, and legal support to enhance their reintegration into their respective societies: This component sought to strengthen the capacity of health, legal, and social organizations that provide assistance to GBV survivors.
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