Pathway 8 - GBV prevention & response

Pathway 8 - GBV prevention & response

This pathway contributes to change by:

Strengthening the awareness, capacities, and relations that support communities and duty-bearers to challenge norms and take up responsibilities in the prevention of and response to GBV and to be accountable towards vulnerable women.

 See below for the specific sections of this pathway. For further information on each section please refer to the attached document.


This pathway will aim to have an impact on all vulnerable women, as generally, all vulnerable women face the risk of GBV. When it comes to access to services, there will be a particular focus on women who have experienced GBV, without however taking into account that these same service need also to be accessible of potential victims in the future.

Read more about the impact group of CARE Rwanda’s VW program in section B1 of the full program document

CARE Rwanda is committed to work in partnership. In this pathway, our strategic partners are:

  • The Gender Cluster and the GBV Technical Working Group under the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, who is responsible for the formulation, implementation and monitoring several policies and strategies promoting women’s rights.
  • The Ministry of Health, in relation to the provision of health services to women affected by GBV, as well as the monitoring of GBV cases. 
  • The National Women’s Council (CNF), who advocates for and build capacity on women’s interests and rights. 
  • The National Police, in order to provide justice to women affected by GBV.
  • The National CSO Network (set up by GLAI), uniting different organizations in Rwanda fighting against GBV.
  • UN Women, for whom the fight against violence against women is a focus area.
  • Pro-femme, being a network uniting 52 local NGOs who all aim at women’s empowerment.

Apart from the strategic partners, many implementing partners contribute to this pathway. Please refer to our website for the descriptions of the projects under this pathway and get to know our implementing partners.

CARE Rwanda's work on this pathway will be informed by the Government of Rwanda’s policy context. Of specific importance to this pathway are:

  • The National Law on Prevention and Punishment of Gender Based Violence (MINIJUST, 2009) and the National Policy Against Gender-Based Violence (MIGEPROF, 2011) show how the GoR is engaged in prevention, response and evidence building of GBV.
  • The National Gender policy (MIGEPROF, 2010) highlights principal guidelines on which sectoral policies and programs will base to integrate gender issues
  • The National Accelerated Plan for Women, Girls, Gender Equality & HIV (MINISANTE, 2009) aims to overcome the unique challenges, gaps, and barriers which increase women and girls' vulnerability to and risk of HIV.
  • The Reproductive Health Policy (MINISANTE, 2003) includes six priorities, i.e. safe mother and child health, family planning, prevention and treatment of STIs, adolescent reproductive health, prevention and management of sexual violence, and social change to increase women’s decision making power.

Besides the above mentioned policies, a number of laws, policies and strategies are relevant to the OVC program as a whole. These are described in section A3 of the full program document.

CARE Rwanda recognizes that in order to fight against GBV, it needs to address both underlying causes as well as direct causes and consequences. The issue of GBV can never be tackled without looking at underlying gender norms.

For that reason, this pathway cannot be seen independently from pathway 5, focusing on women exercising their rights and pathway 6, focusing on the engagement of men in the support for women´s rights. Certain approaches under this last pathway, such as couple dialogues or Journeys of Transformation, specifically look at challenging negative social and cultural norms that allow GBV to happen. These approaches contribute to the fights against GBV but will not be repeated under this pathway.

Three more pathways contribute to combat GBV’s underlying causes, i.e. pathways 6, 9 and 10 which look at engaging men, advocacy and grassroots activism in favor of women´s rights respectively.

While the above-mentioned pathways look at women’s rights and gender issues in general, CARE Rwanda and its partners are also committed to invest specifically in the prevention of and response to GBV. It does so using the following approaches:

GBV activists, peer educators and case managers

GBV activists are community volunteers that fight against GBV in their community. They do so by advocating with local authorities and service providers to act against GBV, for example measures against impunity.

This is done based on evidence collected in the community, showing the prevalence of GBV and its consequences. Next to this, GBV activists aim to achieve social change, by challenging norms and behavior that allow GBV through discussion and exercises.

GBV peer educators, like GBV activists are community volunteers. They however focus on raising awareness on GBV, related laws and policies, and the different negative consequences of GBV. They support families living with conflict, visiting them to discuss, pose questions to challenge their behavior and advice the help solve the conflict.

While activists and peer educators aim to contribute to a lower prevalence of GBV in their communities, case managers focus on supporting women who experienced GBV. The support focuses on accessing services and obtaining justice, but can also include i.e. direct psychosocial support or mediation to solve the conflict underlying the act of GBV.

In addition, case managers work together with service providers to see that GBV cases are being followed up. All GBV cases reported to case managers are stored in a GBV MIS. Data are analyzed and used to inform decision-making of members of the National CSO Network on their programming and advocacy agenda.

GBV activists, peer educators and case managers receive training to understand and be able to carry out their specific roles, are initially intensively coached in order for them gain confidence, and are linked to each other for the necessary peer support. Lastly, they will be linked to national civil society organizations and policy makers to more effectively advocate and seek services for those affected by GBV. Based on the experience from the Great Lakes Advocacy Initiative (GLAI), this approach will be scaled up through partners.

For more information on CARE Rwanda’s approach on GBV prevention and response, please refer to section C2.

Capacity building of service providers and local authorities

Different government institutions are in place to prevent GBV and provide support to those experiencing GBV. These include anti-GBV committees, health services, community policing committees, the police and local authorities.

CARE Rwanda and its partners will build their knowledge on GBV, gender, relevant laws, etc., as well as their capacities for “psychosocial first aid” in order to help them to interact positively with those who experienced GBV. Links between these service providers and (vulnerable) women will be established, e.g. through awareness raising among VSL groups. With local authorities, CARE will advocate for them to include specific GBV targets and indicators in their performance contracts.

In order to engage women in the discussion about the quality and accessibility of these services, the Community Scorecard will be used. This is an approach that facilitates discussion and feedback between service users and duty bearers. Please refer to pathway 7 on civic participation and leadership or to sector C3 for more information on the CSC.

For the anti-GBV committees specifically, CARE Rwanda will be engaged in advocacy for their revitalization, availability of sufficient budget as well as the inclusion of the above-mentioned case managers in these committees.

Based on existing experience, CARE Rwanda will scale-up the support to and capacity building of service providers and local authorities through local partners.

  • % of women age 15-49 who have ever experienced physical or sexual violence that have ever sought help from any source
  • % of GBV victims expressing satisfaction with services, including referral services, provided to them
  • % of men and women who agree that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife for specific reasons
  • The ISARO and GLAI projects jointly implemented activities to challenge negative gender norms and fight GBV, including the training of 4,556 family planning peer educators and 4,044 GBV peer educators, the organization of public dialogues (in 2012 bringing together around 15490 participants, 10785 women and 4705 men), the celebration of international women’s events and mass campaigns. The ISARO Mid-Term Evaluation, conducted in the first half of 2012, says the following:
    ‘In GBV, positive changes have been identified. Among them, women know very well all forms of GBV as per the Rwandan GBV law; they are able to prevent some of them, deal with them and know where to go in case of GBV. According to the FGDs with NWC, GBV cases reported tend to increase in number due to the awareness of one’s rights and the existence of institutions that deal with GBV issues. Respondents in the MTR confirmed this:
    “As women are now informed on different laws, they are able to claim their right like inheritance, right to associate with others and they are also able to negotiate for the effective application of laws. During the meeting they are the first to raise voice and condemn when there is misinterpretation of law. Even communities leaders fear women in VSL groups because they have knowledge and no one can abuse them.” National Women’s Council, Nyanza.’
  • Women taking part in VSL groups are more confident and less dependent on men in order to acquire the money they need to run the household. Reportedly, they are as a result less vulnerable to GBV, as men do no longer have the excuse to demand sex in return for money.
  • Higa Ubeho project has trained 69 government officials on gender and GBV issues. They stated to be better able to consider these areas in their work and decision making: 
    • “Now I make sure that all the programs in the district benefit men and women equally,” says Heritier, gender and family promotion officer in Karongi District, Western Province.
    • “Before the training, my knowledge on gender, GBV types and GBV law was limited. This was a hindrance to my daily practice because I could not handle well community issues. People’s main conflicts in this region are related to property and land issues between husbands and wives or children and parents. Today I am empowered to handle these issues with confidence in a right and correct,” says Sara Mujawimana, Executive secretary of Nyange cell, Ngororero district, Western Province.
  • In 7 Districts, religious leaders have become champions in challenging negative attitudes related to GBV that are believed to be based on religion, thank to the Results Initiative.
  • Through GLAI, CARE Rwanda has brought together NGOs working in GBV in a national civil society organization network. This network cooperates to raise a strong, joint voice to advocate for the implementation of laws preventing GBV, including the availability of resources at the appropriate levels.
  • CARE Rwanda and its partners’ participation in the ’16 Days of Activism Against GBV’ in November and December 2012 focused on awareness raising on illegal marriages.
    Women in illegal marriages are considered vulnerable, because she has no right to any of the household’s property if her husband decides to leave her. As a result from the 16 Days of Activism campaign, 411 couples in Gisagara and Nyanza districts decided to legalize their marriages. It is expected that in 5 other districts participating in the activities, similar numbers have been achieved.
  • Policy Advocacy and Learning Initiative (PALI)
  • Policy Engagement for Marginalized Inclusion (PEMI) Project
  • Great Lakes Advocacy Initiative (GLAI)
  • Results Initiative (RI)
  • Umugore Arumwa (Kinyarwanda for ‘A woman should be listened to’)
  • Higa Ubeho (Kinyarwanda for ‘Be determent and live’)
  • ISARO (Kinyarwanda for ‘pearl’)

CARE Rwanda is committed to learning, to continuously improve the relevance and quality of its work. In relation to this pathway, it poses itself the following questions:

  1. Despite the many efforts of CARE and others, GBV is still widespread. How can we make our efforts more effective and how can we gather evidence that what we do is having a positive effect?
  2. What are the main barriers to self-reporting of GBV cases and how can we address these?
  3. What are the support needs of different groups of activists (e.g. needs of women and men, which could include coaching, peer support, motivation, social recognition, etc.)?