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I recently participated in a great workshop on scale up of interventions that work to prevent violence against women in East and Southern Africa region jointly hosted by the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and UNFPA. This workshop brought together different stakeholders such as researchers, policy makers, donors, activists and members of parliament to reflect on what has been done in terms of scaling up interventions, where the gaps are, how they should be addressed, opportunities and way forward for scale up and the creation of a regional forum to debate and discuss scale-up.

Research conducted on prevention of violence against women in low and middle income countries is increasing, particularly in East and Southern Africa.  We are learning much about what works to prevent violence, however not much can be said about the scale up of interventions. In her presentation, Prof Rachel Jewkes said “Now more than ever before, there is a need for scale up interventions globally”. There is a pressing need to turn research into policies and practices.

During the workshop, researchers from different parts of the East and Southern Africa region shared research and details of various violence against women prevention interventions. These include school based interventions, community mobilization and parenting interventions. The presentations offered a lot of information on what works, insights for scale up, and generated many ideas and questions from participants regarding who should be involved in scaling up and how and at what level should it be done.

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A panel discussion comprised of policymakers, funders, activists and researchers discussed challenges of turning research into action and scale up. What stood out for me in the discussion was the importance of partnerships with other stakeholders in programme development such as researchers, donors, politicians and policy makers. It is also essential to speak the same language so that everybody understands the message sent through in order to develop effective and sustainable programmes.

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So what does it take to create partnerships for scaling up effective programmes? Does it mean creating categories of terms to promote shared understanding across all stakeholders including policy-makers, practitioners and people on the grassroots levels? Does it mean translating terms into different languages to offer a better understanding to people? Or perhaps establishing a regional network that will help move the agenda forward and address the above questions?

Now it is time to turn evidence based research and policies into effective and sustainable programmes. In order to achieve this vision we need to continue providing platforms for policy-makers and researchers to engage on the evidence and platforms for scale-up, develop a shared language around the issues and continuously engage each other and colleagues working at grassroots to secure their needed participation in scale up.

Presentations from the workshop are available online.

Follow the event on Twitter with #Preventvaw and #Scaleup

Submitted by Morma Moremi, Sexual Violence Research Initiative

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