Effectively addressing violence against women and girls (VAWG), including domestic abuse and sexual assault, throughout all of society is often called ‘coordinated community response’. This good practice process enables all members of society to be part of the solution and take action which has been proven to save lives. At Commonwealth Says NO MORE we refer to this process as The Whole System Approach (WSA).
How member countries use The Whole System Approach and engage in the process will often determine the success of VAWG endeavors. This section briefly describes the theory and what may be done as part of a ‘whole’ approach strategy.
The WSA is framed in a holistic way of working in partnership with national and local government, civil society and the voluntary sector to deliver a national (strategy and delivery methodology addressing SDG5) reduction in violence against women. This model inherently understands that to succeed it needs joint working and leadership at a high government level.
The WSA is defined as working in partnership collaboratively in a non-partisan, apolitical way with organisations, states and bodies to eliminate the incidence of VAWG, domestic violence and sexual assault. Outcomes prove the validity of the approach, with culturally sensitive solutions that include the private, public, government, voluntary and civil society sectors. At the core, the approach recognises that to achieve sustainable results, the main areas of delivery are protection, provision and prevention, which must be addressed in equal measure.
The tenants of WSA are:
Leadership: The aspiration to eradicate VAWG in a member country must come from the highest levels of government. Only strong leadership can promote the involvement needed in a multi-sectoral strategy.
Develop a legal framework for VAWG/SDG5: Ensuring that the entirety of the state and all sectors of civil society understand the definitions and deliverables on SDG5 is critical. Having an understanding of how the country legally understands gender equality via the same parameters ensures all sectors work towards the same strategy and deliverables.
Independent state assessment: Through this proposed self-assessment methodology, a country can initiate the process of generating a gap analysis of needs, while at the same time-sharing good practice with others. By working within a similar framework, countries will be able in future to measure progress and understand their needs realistically. This process allows each member country to see where they are in respect to SDG5 and what they wish to deliver on for 2030.
Research and policy development: This critical stage empowers working with Commonwealth Secretariat missions, governments, and the public, private and voluntary sectors to identify effective policies, strategies and legislation to address gender equality. In terms of research, it is important for countries to develop their own data sets to create a baseline through which impact can be measured and policies and strategies constructed.
Coordinate a multi-sectoral response: This type of response ensures that all the parties (government, civil society and the private sector) needed to take the required work of the SDG5 agenda forward are part of a wide consultation process. This will ensure that all sectors have the tools to work together to ensure the strategy moves forward.
Implementation of strategy and development of services: The implementation period requires collaboration, cooperation and leadership. Planning and regular meetings of key stakeholders will benefit this process. Resources throughout the entire country need to be in place to create or continue programmes and/or services for society as a whole and align with each member country’s SDG5 commitments.
Measuring results and re-evaluating: From a baseline created through the assessment, it is important to measure progress on the main goals for each country to deliver on SDG5. This approach allows understanding of what has gone well and to continuously evaluate this policy area.
In terms of process, it is important that the member countries begin with the internal assessments and understanding of its policy issues and data sets. In essence, a deep internal examination and its SDG5 situation that leads into the joining all actors into a collective response. Moving forward, coordinated community response principles with government leadership at the highest level will lead to change. It is important as the process table shows below to measure results at the end and start the learning cycle again to improve the response further.