As part of a global campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence”, the UK Government jointly with implementing partners International Alert and CESVI together with local partners yesterday presented key findings of the formative research “Living with Dignity” report.

According to press release issue by the UK Embassy in Dushanbe, this formative research is part of the broader “What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls” global program funded by the UK Department of International Development ( DFID).  It is based on qualitative field research conducted in the four target villages of the project, two of which were in Panjakent district, and two in Jomi district in Tajikistan, using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews conducted in November and December 2015.

Speaking on the occasion of unveiling the report, British Ambassador to Tajikistan Mr. Hugh Philpott said: “Violence against women and girls is still one, if not the, most widespread and cruel human rights violations worldwide. As an Ambassador but perhaps more so as a husband and proud father of a daughter, I am glad that UK government has been active and committed to tackle gender based violence and abuse around the world, including here in Tajikistan.  Ending violence against women and girls is a top priority for the UK. It is among my top priorities. I hope that the key findings of this report will support further policy making by the government of Tajikistan and also positively influence programmatic interventions which will be undertaken in Tajikistan in coordination with development partners.”

Country Representative of International Alert Mrs. Shahribonu Shonasimova said: “Conflict affects women, men, girls and boys in different ways, and gender inequality as well as widespread violence against women and girls undermines the long-term prospects for peace and development. This also includes the issue of domestic violence.  At International Alert we help improve relations between women and men at home and in their communities by creating a positive environment that combines social and economic empowerment, strengthening their capacity to respond peacefully to problems when they arise, and helping to build a secure peaceful future for them and their societies.”

CESVI Head of Mission in Republic of Tajikistan, Mrs. Filippo Crivellaro said: The research and the subsequent implementation of activities related to women’s economic empowerment, showed that a better gender equality inside a patriarchal type of family, can contribute to a decrease of DV, only if an improve setting of family relations is in place: the new positive role of women has to be explained and accepted by potential perpetrators of violence.  So, behavior change actions must target families and communities (groups) not individuals.”

The research indicated several possible entry points for DV/SGBV prevention work, including working with informal leaders, creating safe spaces for discussing frustrations and fears, as well as reinforcing positive local gender norms and working towards changing harmful ones.  Current economic hardships also seem to play
 a role in re-adjusting assigned gender roles and possibly norms, which can potentially affect girls’ education and economic opportunities for women positively.  Considering these economic challenges, initiatives focusing on addressing norms which reproduce gender inequality through an entry point of women’s economic empowerment, while importantly also engaging men, may now have a higher possibility of achieving social acceptance and thereby success, than previously thought.

This report has been funded by UK aid from the UK government, via the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Global Programme.

The authors would like to express their deepest appreciation to the individuals, organizations
and target communities who shared their
visions for this research. A special thanks goes
to members of the research team Zarringul Alimshoeva and Mustaqim Ahmadov, who gathered the necessary information in the field and contributed to the report. The authors
would also like to acknowledge the crucial role
of the partner organizations; Cesvi Tajikistan, for providing relevant socio-economic data on the villages, public organizations “Farodis”, “Women of Orient”, and “ATO”, for supporting the research team with the interviews, focus group discussions and logistics of the research.

The press release notes that the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies.