Violence against women and girls is a global problem, with 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.
One Irish organisation 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 on a new approach to reducing gender-based violence in developing countries.
The pilot programme which looks at behaviours is focused on Kenya, Ethiopia and Nepal.
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.
The organisation 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.
These are just some of many examples within the pilot. And, these changes would not be possible without taxpayer support, from Donegal and the rest of Ireland.
Donegal Town native Orlaith O’Rourke, who works for ActionAid in the organisation’s Dublin office says it is really exciting to see this new behaviour change method working to end violence and to improve women’s lives.
"I started working with ActionAid during the first lockdown in 2020, it was dreadful to hear stories of children being married off while schools were closed and of domestic violence increasing while people were staying home.
"It is great to read good news and that government of Ireland are supporting such an innovative pilot to tackle violence against women.
"We and all the communities we work with are very grateful for the support of Irish taxpayers through Irish Aid and for direct donations from people in Donegal to ActionAid, which make this work possible.”
Last year ActionAid Ireland and University College London’s Centre for Behaviour Change published a field guide on the behaviour change method.
As a result, the impact is now being felt 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 development aid.
ActionAid provides long term support to women and children in developing countries, so they can overcome the obstacles holding them back.
Their approach is to empower local women to take control over their own lives.
ActionAid Ireland was established in 1983 and is a member of ActionAid International, one of the world’s most respected development federations.
Irish Aid funds an ActionAid Women’s Rights programme in Kenya, Nepal and Ethiopia.
They use this funding to work with vulnerable communities in an effort to end early girl marriage, prevent gender-based violence, gain land rights for women and help girls receive an education.
You can read more at httpsactionaid.iewomens-rights-programme
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.