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Why develop a research agenda?

As global evidence and interest in the intersections between violence against children (VAC) and violence against women (VAW) continue to grow, researchers and practitioners from the VAC and VAW fields are seeking ways to better collaborate and thus ensure the best outcomes for victims / survivors of both types of violence. To meet these needs and identify key evidence gaps, the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti is partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI), to collaboratively develop a research agenda for the intersections of VAC and VAW.

The new research agenda will contribute to building knowledge in a more systematic way, ensure that research efforts make the best use of limited resources, and serve to monitor progress over time. It will also inform the implementation of the multiagency RESPECT Women and INSPIRE frameworks, support UNICEF’s commitment to respond to the gender dimensions of violence, guide SVRI Grant-making and promote coherence in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

What are research priorities and why do they matter?

Without priorities, development is blind. With priorities, the science and innovation sectors can flourish to support development, equity and health.” COHRED (2010).

Setting research priorities helps to identify evidence gaps, ensures research efforts make the best use of limited resources, and assists researchers, funders, practitioners, and policymakers with research planning and future fund-raising efforts. It can also guide grantmaking and signal to stakeholders, research areas that have been identified as being important, thus serving as an advocacy tool.

Inclusive research setting responds to the need to promote a diversity of voices – especially from low-and middle-income country settings, which historically lack representation – and minimize the risk of biases when establishing research priorities. Finally, setting research priorities also advances the field in a more structured way, and serves as a monitoring tool by continuously mapping progress against initial evidence gaps.

How is the research agenda being developed?

Traditional priority setting processes are often driven by a small group of researchers and experts with limited input from other stakeholders, such as policymakers and practitioners. This can lead to personal biases, with powerful members of priority setting groups having undue influence on final decisions, and a lack of clarity regarding the criteria used for the selection of research areas. Conversely, the approach we are taking is consultative and inclusive, with a wide array of stakeholders working on both VAW and VAC identifying areas where research can enhance coordination and build bridges between both fields.

To promote participation and minimize the risk of bias, the methodology draws from an adapted version of the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative method used online surveys (in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic) and meetings to crowd source insights. It also builds on lessons learned from the previously developed Research Agenda on Violence Against Women and Girls, led by SVRI and the Equality Institutewith participation from UNICEF Innocenti and the WHO, among others. Close collaboration between these processes will ensure their complementarity. 

What does the process entail?

SVRI, UNICEF Innocenti and WHO/HRP together make up the Coordinating Group which will carry out this process. An Advisory Group comprised of representatives from research and practice on VAC-VAW intersections from around the globe will help develop the framework and provide technical input and guidance throughout. Finally, a broad group of Global Stakeholders – including researchers, advocates, policymakers, and practitioners representing different countries, settings, disciplines and areas of focus – will provide inputs and promote dissemination and implementation of the final research agenda widely.

Priority setting: the 7 phases

In partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Gender Violence and Health Centre, we have produced a systematic review on the co-occurrence of intimate partner violence and violence against children. A second systematic review is underway focusing on interventions that address both intimate partner violence and violence against children. Additional relevant systematic reviews will also be identified.

The Coordinating and Advisory Groups have developed a framework to identify research domains along with criteria to rank questions. Global Stakeholders were invited to rank research priorities and provide additional inputs. The outcomes of these processes will be consolidated and analyzed to identify research questions considered a priority by the field. The Advisory Group will provide oversight of the analysis and results before they are widely disseminated, including through Global Stakeholder network. A detailed description of each step is available here.

Find out more about this process by watching the technical briefing sessions we hosted (3 March 2022).

For more information about this research priority setting process, please contact Alessandra Guedes (UNICEF Innocenti) at aguedes@unicef.org.

World Health Organization. (2024). Intersections between violence against children and violence against women: Global research priorities. Summary report. World Health Organization. https://svri.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2022-09-30/P3_Shared_Global_Research_WEB..pdf
World Health Organization. (2024). Intersections between violence against children and violence against women: Global research priorities. Full Report. World Health Organization. https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/376247/9789240089105-eng.pdf
Launch: Intersections between violence against children and violence against women: Global research priorities. (n.d.). SVRI. Retrieved March 12, 2024, from https://www.svri.org/webinars/launch-intersections-between-violence-against-children-and-violence-against-women-global-research-priorities/
Global Shared Research Agenda on VAW. (n.d.). SVRI. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.svri.org/geographic-specific-research-agenda/global-shared-research-agenda-on-vaw/
VAC-VAW Intersections Research Priorities: Technical briefing session 2. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxHpuj8NojU
VAC-VAW Intersections Research Priorities: Technical Briefing session 1. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKc4PFGrnzE
VAC-VAW Intersections Research Priorities: Global Stakeholders Briefing Session 2. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysuGSmBKpnM
VAC-VAW Intersections Research Priorities: Global Stakeholders Briefing Session 1. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_75IK21YBQ
Innocenti, U. O. of R.-. (n.d.). Joining forces to develop a research agenda on intersections of violence against children and violence against women. UNICEF-IRC. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.unicef-irc.org/article/2121-joining-forces-to-develop-a-research-agenda-on-intersections-of-violence-against-children-and-violence.html
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