Globally, violence against women is a leading cause of premature death and morbidity for women. Almost one-third of women report experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their life, and nearly 40 percent of all homicides of women are committed by an intimate partner.
IPA has been a leader in the recent expansion of high-quality IPV research to identify how we can substantially reduce IPV. Along with many dedicated researchers, policymakers, and activists, the IPV Initiative has pushed researchers and implementing partners to think more seriously about IPV in their work. However, there is still a lot of work to do. Many of the underlying mechanisms that drive IPV are poorly understood and there is still a lack of actionable evidence on what programs work and why. Many existing programs aimed at reducing IPV are very broad in scope, and most evaluations of these programs have not “unpacked” the various components to understand what drives change. More research on IPV reduction is needed to address this pervasive problem.
As the amount of field research on violence increases, accurately measuring IPV and related outcomes becomes an even more pressing challenge. Research is needed to validate existing tools, standardize best practices, and test innovative approaches that may improve measurement.
To address these challenges and facilitate progress in reducing IPV globally, Innovations for Poverty Action has partnered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and other affiliated researchers. The initiative will work across several fronts to:
- Commission and carry out scientifically rigorous research to understand the underlying mechanisms influencing IPV.
- Address ethical, methodological, and measurement challenges in violence research and support researchers to carry out ethical and high-quality studies.
- Design, test, and scale innovative solutions to reduce IPV and scale the ones that work.
Commission research to understand how to reduce IPV
The IPV Initiative has run three rounds of competitive funding. We supported additional data collection on 16 projects, enabling researchers to measure whether the interventions reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence in addition to the outcomes already being researched. The approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, conditional and unconditional cash grants, and financial education for women through a tablet-based app, among other approaches.
The IPV Initiative has also worked to establish research partnerships to amplify impact and understanding. The IPV Initiative and IFPRI’s Cash Collaborative conducted a conference in 2020 convening IPV researchers who study the impacts of cash transfers. The outcomes of this conference and subsequent joint efforts created the Joint Research Agenda to guide researchers and policymakers. The IPV Initiative also works with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative to expand research resources.
Address ethical, methodological, and measurement challenges in IPV research
With a competitive fund, the IPV Initiative augments researcher work to test and document better ways to conduct research. We have focused on comparing IPV measurement methods and are working with researchers to leverage existing IPA studies to improve enumerator training practices. We are also collecting resources and best practices to advise researchers on how to conduct violence research ethically.
Design, test, and scale innovative solutions
IPA and the IRC jointly conducted initial scoping work in Liberia, a country with relatively high levels of recorded IPV, to uncover and test innovations in IPV reduction. We have documented examples of the process involved in piloting these innovations in three blog posts from the start, the initial test, to a small pilot.
Using initial insights from the human-centered design process in Liberia, we piloted Becoming One in Uganda, a couple’s counseling program delivered by faith leaders. After promising feasibility outcomes, a full-scale randomized evaluation was conducted. The results of this program indicated substantial reductions in violence and improvements across several relationship quality measures. The IPV Initiative is working with the Church of Uganda, World Vision, and IRC’s Airbel lab to leverage our field presence in the country to further scale and test this promising program.
IPA is also engaged in broad collaboration with the Women’s Ministry in Peru—where IPA and implementing partners also have a strong field presence—to address IPV, including some interventions identified through the innovations phase.