Monday, December 26, 2016

The necessity of gender sensitivity in programmatic policy

This exploratory study shows that there are several promising practices to prevent violence in relationships and the transference of violence issues to the next generations. Yet, at the same time, we are dealing with a practical field where interventions and policy specifically geared towards (early, primary or universal) prevention are still in their infancy. During the last four decades, in which the attention paid to domestic violence and child abuse has grown, that attention has been mainly concentrated on measures to provide shelter, protection and support. Thus, more attention needs to be paid to primary prevention. A comparison with a number of foreign interventions within the EU has shown that, frequently, a coherent theoretical foundation is still lacking. Projects are sometimes started up, based on practical knowledge, but without a scientific foundation. While building a more solid basis for these projects, it is also important to do this from a gender-sensitive perspective, that is, with an eye for the different levels at which social and cultural inequalities between women and men occur, and how these may influence operative elements in the approach. According to the experts, it is important to make a distinction between different levels while reflecting on the projects. Firstly, the question is whether there is a view on gender equality. Secondly, the question is which means are used to reach a wide audience with this view. A third question is: do the people involved in the approach’s execution endorse this view? A precondition for a sound execution is that teachers, professionals (or volunteers) are trained to execute the intervention professionally and effectively. Regarding the question of ‘what works’, the bottleneck is that empirical research that may provide insight into this is still in its infancy. However, the interventions that have been the subject of empirical research offer inspiring examples of how it can be done. For instance, the effect studies on the projects concentrated on a change in awareness and attitude among adolescents (Greece, Sweden) with respect to the representation of boys/masculinity and girls/femininity and, more specifically, the unacceptability of violence, show positive effects. Despite the limitations, it is hopeful that the study has shown a number of very promising examples, and that examples from other EU countries may serve as an inspiration. It would be regrettable if it would no longer be possible to structurally continue promising projects because they have been anchored insufficiently in (municipal) policy and the necessary funding. The national government and municipalities have an important task in the development of a sustainable prevention policy, focused on breaking through the intergenerational transference of violence by means of a programmatic approach, making it possible to offer different interventions at different levels in one, coherent package. The problem is serious in both dimension and nature, and effective action is therefore urgently needed. The aim of this report is to provide some insights that are relevant for the developmental process towards more effectiveness. It is to be hoped that, with a clear framework established by the national government, the municipalities will continue to take up the challenge of being in charge, for the benefit of the quality, continuity and effectiveness of prevention policy.

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