Evaluating how Gender Justice can transform lives

Evaluations help us understand the effectiveness of projects, documenting the successes and challenges of working in a particular way. The evaluation of the first phase of the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation’s From Gender Based Violence to Gender Justice and Healing project (Gender Justice and Healing) is available here: https://iwda.org.au/resource/from-gender-based-violence-to-gender-justice-and-healing-project-phase-1-evaluation-report/. It examines a model that is demonstrating real success toward ending violence against women and improving women’s opportunities for leadership and decision making.

The Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation aims to contribute to nation building in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville by encouraging relationships founded on respect and dignity and by increasing citizen responsibility. Working in partnership with International Women’s Development Agency, the Nazareth Centre implemented the first phase of Gender Justice and Healing project from April 2015–March 2018. The project builds community-based capacity to prevent and respond to family, sexual and other forms of violence by addressing the root causes of gender inequality.

The project takes a comprehensive and multi-track approach, focusing on practical and strategic solutions and ways of working. Bougainville Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) are leading responses to, and prevention of, family and sexual violence through work with government and communities. Women and men are preventing family and sexual violence at community level by promoting shared power and decision making between women and men, including through work by male advocates. A school-based program promotes gender equality and respectful relationships with children.

The evaluation highlighted the effectiveness of the model for communities and individuals. It found that the project demonstrated ‘excellent performance’ by exceeding or meeting 10 of its 12 targets and sub-targets. The evaluation looked at the kinds of changes that were taking place in communities where the project’s WHRDs and male advocates had been working. Some examples include:

  • Instances of reductions in sorcery accusation-related killing and family and sexual violence.
  • A growth in citizen understanding of the seriousness of family and sexual violence, the need to stop it and the availability of safe houses, counselling services and referral pathways.
  • Communities reporting reductions in teenage pregnancy, early marriage and drug use.
The president of Bana Women Human Rights Defenders, a young WHRDs, is leading her group at the Bougainville WHRDs Forum (Siwai, November 2017). Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono/IWDA.

The project has also had a significant impact on community leadership. In 2017, 34 communities elected WHRDs as community government ward representatives. This means that almost three-quarters of the 47 community governments in North and South Bougainville include WHRDs. Additionally,16 male advocates became community government ward representatives. The evaluation concluded that training as WHRDs and male advocates helps enable women and men to move into other spaces where they can be proactive leaders, participate in decision making and act as change agents. The evaluation also highlighted the importance of quality and content of training in ensuring positive change and building capacity of WHRDs and male advocates.

Examples of outcomes resulting from the transformation of individuals participating in the project include:

  • Individual survivors and perpetrators of family and sexual violence, whose lives have been transformed by training and counselling, going on to influence others to make positive changes in their lives.
  • Former perpetrators being transformed to the extent that they take action in their communities to protect and help survivors of family and sexual violence, or become male advocates.
  • WHRDs having the skills and confidence to challenge injustices, demonstrate leadership in a wide variety of community projects, take on the responsibility of defending other women and keeping other women safe from further violence.

The evaluation recommended continuing the comprehensive, strengths-based approach of the first phase and made some recommendations to build on the project’s success into Phase 2.

Phase 1 of the project directly reached 21,888 people from 71 communities (13,163 women and girls including 31 with disabilities and 8,725 men and boys including 19 with disabilities). The project addressed the needs of diverse women, girls, men and boys across Bougainville, including in very remote communities.

Women leaders at the Bougainville WHRDs Forum, Siwai (November 2017). Photo credit: Harjono Djoyobisono/ IWDA

The From Gender Based Violence to Gender Justice and Healing project is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Autonomous Government of Bougainville and Government of Papua New Guinea as part of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program.