Ireland’s overseas development aid changing lives across the globe

  • Date: 27/09/2021
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward

Violence against women and girls is a global problem. One in three women experiencing violence relating to their gender during their lifetime. Unfortunately, the pandemic has exacerbated the issue, with cases of child marriage and domestic violence reportedly on the increase globally. To respond to increasing need caused by the pandemic, we need overseas development aid now more than ever.

ActionAid is pioneering a new method of tackling violence against women, through funding from Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs. ActionAid Ireland has been collaborating with University College London’s Centre for Behaviour Change for the last five years. The collaboration has led to a new approach to reduce gender-based violence through behaviour change. The pilot programme focuses on communities in Kenya, Ethiopia and Nepal. We work with our colleagues and partners in these three countries to create local long-term solutions to global problems.

Success so far

Already the programme is having a notable impact. In Madi, Nepal, ActionAid worked with bus conductors, focusing on their behaviour to make public transport safer for women and girls. We worked with men in Kishushe, Kenya, to change behaviours and make attitudes more respectful towards women with disabilities. And in Decha, Ethiopia, ActionAid used billboards to help to end the behaviour of isolating women who were menstruating. (Pictured above). These are just some of many examples within the pilot. And, these changes would not be possible without Irish taxpayer support.

Triona Pender, Head of Programmes with ActionAid Ireland and co-authored the field guide says: “We are delighted with how the approach is working, we are focusing on ‘people not problems’ and gaining a much better understanding of what drives negative behaviours, once we have this knowledge we are in a much better position to help communities make lasting changes. We are very grateful for the support of Irish taxpayers through Irish Aid and for the direct donations to ActionAid which make this work possible.”

Ripple effect of overseas development aid

Last year ActionAid Ireland and University College London’s Centre for Behaviour Change published a field guide on this new method. As a result, the approach is impacting lives even further afield.

Other organisations and even the Chilean Ministry are adopting the approach. Javiera Rosenberg Pacareu, Ministry of Women and Gender Equity in Chile says: “The guide is an enormous contribution to the emerging gender equity and behaviour change field. This publication is a big first step, and I hope that more behaviour change initiatives like these in other topics can replicate it.”

The behaviour change programme and the field guide are only possible thanks to the Irish public’s ongoing support of overseas development aid.

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