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The “Funding Ethically” initiative by SVRI crafted essential guidelines to assist funders in ethically financing research focused on combatting violence against women and children in low- and middle-income nations.

While funding for initiatives addressing violence against women (VAW) has seen a general increase, recent estimates indicate that investment in this crucial area over the past five years remains shockingly meager.

Findings from SVRI’s Tracking Funding Study show that less than 1% of total Official Development Assistance (ODA), globally, goes to violence against women and girls research or programming, with even less (0.05% of total ODA) spent on research to understand what works and what doesn’t. Furthermore, resources for VAW and VAC research remain concentrated in high income countries (HICs) and when research is done in low and middle income countries (LMICs), it is often led by HIC researchers who also have control over the agenda and research question setting, thus perpetuating historic colonial legacies and knowledge hierarchies. This despite the fact that we know that giving power, voice, resources, and choices to LMIC researchers increases the likelihood of creating successful solutions and maximizes the potential for them to be taken to scale to positively impact the well-being of vulnerable populations. Significantly more energy and investment into research and programming is needed if we are to meaningfully impact the scale of the problem. Commitment to investing in LMICs is the need of the hour to ensure that research and evidence generated is culturally rooted and sustainable.

In addition, there’s a pressing need to foster robust collaborations between local researchers and activists. We know that the way in which research and knowledge building is funded in LMICs can be a powerful lever for change. How the projects and partnerships are resourced lays the foundation for the creation of effective, impactful, and contextually based research initiatives, programs and policies.

Advocacy Toolkit

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the SVRI actively engaged in multiple initiatives aimed at securing increased and enhanced funding for research centered on violence against women and violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. The resources in our resulting Advocacy Toolkit highlight the inequities and power imbalances in how research is conceived, conducted and resourced, and provide knowledge to advocate for rebalancing power and shifting resources, in better ways, to LMICs and LMIC-based researchers.

These are:

The Funding Ethically project supports and builds on these different processes (what needs to be funded and where the money is for this) and contributes to advocacy on how resources are being allocated.

What We Did

The SVRI used multiple complementary methods to create the guidelines. We reviewed a range of resources and materials and consulted with funders, activists, practitioners, and researchers from Africa, Asia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe.

The guidance was developed over several months using a multi-step process which included:

  1. A scoping review of the available literature.
  2. Focus group discussions (FGDs) with researchers, funders and practitioners, held in July 2021. The objectives of these were:
    – To understand funder perspectives on challenges, gaps and needs in the field of funding research/programming on violence against women and violence against children in low- and middle-income countries.
    – To ensure that the perspectives of researchers and practitioners from lower- and middle-income countries on funding VAW and VAC research in LMICs were understood , shared and incorporated into the guidance.
  3. Online Survey: Based on findings from the focus groups and identification of key themes, an online survey tool was created. The survey was widely disseminated through the SVRI Update (the SVRI’s weekly newsletter) as well as to regional networks. The survey was available in French, Spanish and English.

Key Objectives

We hope that this guidance can contribute to building better funding processes that recognise and deal with power imbalances between funders and their recipients by:

  • Clarifying fundamental principles that underpin the concept of “better funding,” rooted in comprehensive inputs from the field.
  • Shifting the perspective on funders as collaborative and equitable partners, jointly dedicated to generating evidence that advances responses and prevents violence against women and children in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Serving as a pragmatic manual for funders, offering actionable steps to translate these principles into tangible practices.
  • Championing the adoption and utilization of numerous valuable resources that facilitate diverse approaches to funding considerations.
Mago, A., & Dartnall, E. (2021). Executive summary. Funding Ethically: Better funding for violence against women and violence against children research in lower and middle-income countries. SVRI. https://www.svri.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2022-01-20/ExecutiveSummary_Ethical_Funding.pdf
Mago, A., & Dartnall, E. (2021). Full report. Funding Ethically: Better funding for violence against women and violence against children research in lower and middle-income countries. SVRI. https://www.svri.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2022-01-20/FullReport_Ethical_Funding.pdf
Mago, A., & Dartnall, E. (2021). Funding Ethically: Putting principles into practice. SVRI. https://www.svri.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2022-01-20/PrinciplesToPractice_Ethical_Funding.pdf
Shams-Lau, J., & Wilberding, L. (2020). How funders can support individual well-being. Stanford Social Innovation Review. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/how_funders_can_support_individual_well_being
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