Gender-based violence (GBV) is an ongoing and escalating global crisis. It takes various forms such as physical abuse, sexual assault, psychological manipulation, and economic deprivation, primarily targeting women and girls.

Domestic violence cases increased significantly with the societal and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Extended lockdowns, increased economic stress, and social isolation caused a “shadow pandemic”, heightening existing vulnerabilities of women and girls worldwide (Dlamini, 2020).

Gender-based violence is in itself a violation of the human rights of women and girls. It is also a major obstacle to the fulfilment of all other aspects of women’s and girls’ human rights and other development goals. Moreover Gender-Based Violence also affects boys and men, perpetuating the normalisation of toxic masculinity.

Empowerment Against Violence is a GALS-based methodology to work with women and men of all ages, within families, communities and institutions to examine and address different forms of Gender-based violence.

EAV tools can be used as part of a dedicated workshop and process or they can be integrated into other PALS or GALS processes to put a spotlight on GBV and develop personal and collective strategies to address it.

Participants do their own personal confidential drawings, encourage other members of their family and community to do their own personal confidential drawings. These then form the basis for discussion and negotiation on equitable ways forward.

The immediate focus is on violence in the wider family and household domestic violence. The tools can also be adapted to address gender-based violence in the wider community and within organisations.

Empowerment Diamond by women from Pakistan

Daughter-in-Law song of change from GALS workshop in Kyrgyzstan

Role Play on Causes of Gender-based Violence from GALS participants from DRCongo

what is distinctive about the gamechange approach

GBV negatively affects perpetrators as well as victim/survivors

Women are intelligent agents of development: Women are not seen as ‘victims of subordination in need of consciousness-raising’ but as intelligent actors who already have aspirations and strategies but need collective and organisational support to better realise these.

Men are allies in change: Men are not seen as stereotypical monsters and problems, but as potential partners in a process of change and pursuit of justice who also need support in order to go against established attitudes and patterns of behaviour to work for a better world.

Start with the individual: The process first catalyses individual changes, giving people the skills to reflect on their personal situation as the basis then for collective reflection at group and/or community levels.

Respect difference: GALS starts by clarifying differences, and acknowledging the potential for conflict, before negotiating these into a consensus, or at least acceptance of the need to acknowledge and adapt to different interests.

Focus on action: Every learning ‘event’ focuses on tangible actions for change which can be taken by individuals immediately, before waiting for other actions identified at group and institutional levels.

Peer learning network: Every learning event contributes to building capacities and systems for ongoing peer action learning as the basis for a sustainable process of change.

Gender justice is non-negotiable: Gender justice and rights-based principles are non-negotiable and underlie the way in which process is facilitated, and the types of actions which are supported by development agencies. Although the main focus is on promoting constructive communication between women and men, the ultimate aim is removal of all forms of gender discrimination and empowerment of women and men to realise their full human potential. In some cases this requires strategic negotiation of conflicts of interest in favour of women’s rights.

IMPORTANT: Safeguarding participants

Violence is real. Participants may be extremely vulnerable if they publicly disclose certain types of information. It is therefore important throughout this process that:

All personal diagrams are treated as confidential and people are given physical space to fill them in in private. If change is to happen then it is important that the reflections that these diagrams provoke are deep and honest – both for survivor victims and perpetrators. It is also important that the diagrams should be seen as an ongoing reflection where understandings and perspectives should change over time.

Any workshop should not be just a one-off exercise. Group and plenary activities should be fun, with participants sharing only what they feel comfortable with. Facilitators should be experienced in dealing with issues of violence and able to refer people if serious issues or conflicts arise.

EAV Methodology Framework and Tools

Empowerment Against Violence uses the generic PALS Change Journey Diagram Template as its overarching framework. This is built up as a personal and collective plan for change through use of other tools:

  • Family Peace Soulmate Vision
  • Freedom from Violence Diamond
  • Violence Challenge Action Tree
  • Empowerment Network Map
  • Empowerment Against Violence Journey

These tools can be adapted as a 2-3 day workshop with guided homework supported by a peer discussion network. Or they can be introduced over time in ten 2-3 hour sessions integrated into the meetings and activities of community-based organisations like VSLAs.

Tool 1: Happy Family Soulmate Vision

Still to be done.

A life vision drawing that includes not only dreams of nice houses and new businesses, but an awareness of the wider social context necessary for their achievements in terms of equality and fairness in family relationships and their community including environmental sustainability.

Tool 2: Freedom from Violence Diamond

Individual Diamond exercise:

For illustrative picture of the Diamond ‘Charades’ group participatory activity see the generic Vision Diamond guidelines on:

The Freedom from Violence Diamond places GBV within the wider context of human rights of women/girls and men/boys and what freedom from violence means for them. It then identifies different types of violence affecting women and men in families and communities and priorities for change.

This can be done as an individual reflection or group exercise. For the group activity, participants are divided into 4-6 separate groups by gender, age and marital status.

STEP 1: INDIVIDUAL REFLECTION: Participants identify what criteria they think characterise extreme opposites: what they want to do as freedom for the top of the Diamond and the most extreme types of violence preventing them from enjoying this freedom at the bottom of the diamond. They draw these extremes on a set number of colour-coded cards.

STEP 2: SHARING: Participants share their cards within the group. This is a game like charades. One person comes up and shows the card, the others first have to guess what it means. Then those with the same issue/criteria hand their cards to the person at the front. That person sits down and the next person comes up until all cards are finished.

STEP 3: VOTING: When they have heard everyone else’s ideas, participants are then given a certain number of votes. They come up and confidentially put a mark on the cards they want to vote on. Or they can vote by show of hands. The difference between the number of cards and the number of votes for any issue can be taken as a rough indicator of changes in attitude/awareness as a result of the exercise.

STEP 4: RANKING: Participants then count the votes and place each set of cards on the relevant level of the diamond: best likes at the top, medium likes towards the middle, medium dislikes middle below the line, worst dislikes at the bottom.

STEP 5: ACTION PRIORITIES: Action priorities then ringed in green as planned fruits. These are most likely to be the things that people really want, but that few people have. Or the things that people want least and many people have.

STEP 6: PLENARY SHARING AND NEGOTIATION: Participants from each group presents their group Diamond – those who are normally least vocal should present first with others adding. One person removes the cards from their own drawing and, with discussion with the rest of the participants, places these cards either on their side or in the middle of the ‘parent diamond’. This identifies common indicators and potential lines of difference to establish common Codes of Conduct. In particular discussion of how the situation of people suffering at the bottom of the Diamond can be substantially improved.

Tool 3: Family Violence Challenge Action Tree

For illustrative picture of the Challenge Action Tree ‘Charades’ group participatory activity see the generic Action Tree guidelines on:

The Violence Challenge Action Tree analyses the causes of priority types of violence, potential solutions and action commitments.

This can be done as an individual reflection or group exercise. EACH PERSON ONLY FILLS IN THE ROOT THAT REFERS TO THEM. Other family members will fill in their own tree. These will then be shared and negotiated. For the group activity, participants are divided into 4-6 separate groups by gender, age and marital status and a Charade game fun process is followed as for the Diamond.

STEP 1: TRUNK Trees start from a trunk representing an issue/vision/challenge or an institution like a household, business or community. Draw two lines for the trunk in the middle of the one or two sheets of paper. Leave enough space between the lines for drawings in the trunk and also top and bottom for the roots and branches. Then:

  • Draw symbols in the middle of the trunk for the different family members to whom your tree will refer.
  • Place a symbol for your freedom vision in the middle of a red vision circle at the top of the trunk.
  • Put a circle for your current situation in relation to the vision at the bottom of the trunk.

STEP 2: ROOTS: show inputs or causes/dimensions/perspectives. Draw lines to separate three roots at the bottom of the trunk: women left, men right, both middle. The women and men’s roots can also be subdivided into separate roots for different family members. Each person then fills in on their root the things that they themselves do that cause violence in the family. Major causes can be drawn larger and closer to the trunk so that there is a hierarchy.

STEP 3: BRANCHES: brainstorm potential solutions. Draw lines to separate three branches at the top of the trunk corresponding to the roots: women left, men right, both middle, subdivided into separate roots for different family members. Each person then fills in on their branch the things that they themselves can do that will reduce violence in the family. Major causes can be drawn larger and closer to the trunk so that there is a hierarchy.

STEP 4: SMART ACTION FRUITS: Challenge Action Trees are not just ‘talking shops’. They must always have SMART ‘action fruits’ or concrete action commitments that can be implemented by individuals within a given time-frame and tracked. Not just vague ‘solutions’ like ‘more training and awareness’. It is important also that these should be actions achievable by individuals, not a wish list for someone else or an organisation.

STEPS 5, 6: FLOWERS AND BEES: Once all individual actions are exhausted, then support needed from groups or organisations can be indicated as flowers or bees – but these are more fragile and bees only go where there is already lots of honey or they may never come.

Tool 4: Empowerment Support Network Map

!! To be further elaborated and streamlined.

The Empowerment Support Network Map analyses the range of potential family, community and institutional support networks who can work together to address violence issues.

STEP 1 EMPOWERMENT VISION: How will I look if I am free from violence, empowered and happy?

  • Think first how you are now. Are you happy or sad? are you a survivor/victim of violence from some people? are you a perpetrator of violence towards other people?
  • How will you be as ‘the ideal you’ – the future you who is free from violence and does not commit violence against others?

Draw that ideal person in the centre of the diagram – that ideal is at the centre of the empowerment web you will build.

STEPs 2/3 PEOPLE AND INSTITUTIONS THAT CAN SUPPORT ME to free myself from violence – violence against me or violence that I myself commit. Work outwards from the centre, putting the people and institutions who are most important closest to you. Make sure you draw people in different colours, shapes, sizes, characteristic objects etc so you can recognise them later. Include any groups you are a member of eg savings groups, religious groups, ‘important people’ are not necessarily only your immediate household or even the wider family. It could include eg banks, or even the president. You can also use different types of line to indicate how important or powerful these people are. Inside each circle put symbols for the different opportunities or challenges that each presents in your fight against violence.

STEP 4: RELATIONSHIP ARROWS: For these people/institutions:

  • Ring in red any who are already part of your support network
  • Ring in green any who are likely to be sympathetic but who you need bring into your support network. Put a very thick ring around those who may be most powerful in support.
  • Ring in blue any who are likely to oppose your vision. Put a very thick ring around those who are most powerful in opposition. These are people you can either leave, or persuade through working with others.
  • Put arrows between people and institutions who are linked – differentiate the type and strength of the linkage through colour and thick/thin line and direction.
  • Put a very thick green circle around the main entry points as key targets for a change strategy.

STEP 5: ACTION PRIORITIES: Then put very thick green circles around about 5 targets and think concretely about:

  • what will you do? eg will you share any of the tools? lobby or provide other information? put people in contact with others?
  • what will be the timeframe? at least one activity for each target within one month, however small, and other strategies over a longer time if necessary.

Tool 5: Empowerment Against Violence Change Journey

The Change Journey brings all the other tools together into a strategy and plan for change that you will implement and track yourself.

1: VISION OR DREAM: Every journey starts with a dream vision – what you are hoping to achieve. Put a big red sun circle at the top right of the paper. In this Vision Circle you put in elements from Tool 1 Soulmate Vision and the Empowerment Support Network Map.

2: CURRENT BASELINE: Reflect on your current situation in relation to the vision. Draw this inside a black circle at the bottom left of the paper. Join the two circles with two black lines for the road. In the black circle put any relevant elements from your Freedom from Violence Diamond – as a survivor/victim and/or perpetrator of violence. Be honest here.

3: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES: From the Challenge Action Tree and/or Empowerment Support Network Map:

  • Opportunities: Draw 10+ opportunities at top of the road in green as things you plan to make happen to achieve freedom from violence. The more potential opportunities you identify the more likely you are to succeed and keep positive.
  • Challenges: Draw challenges underneath the road in blue as things you want to perish to eliminate violence from your life. Do a detailed but realistic risk analysis so that you can address or avoid them.
  • Analysis: Things more controllable (individual strengths and weaknesses) go closer to the road. Things that cannot be controlled (contextual opportunities and threats) go further from the road.
  • Balance the road: finally if you end up with more challenges than opportunities, identify new opportunities so that opportunities still are more than risks. TAKE YOUR TIME.

4: TARGET AND MILESTONES: Vision Journeys have a medium term SMART target as a thick green circle placed next to the vision to make the plan concrete. Your first plan will be for 1 year starting immediately. 2-4 milestone targets are then placed as thinner green circles on the way. The first milestone should be after 1 month so that action starts immediately. The others can be equal distance, or a specific time like a festival or family event. Put circles and planned progress in green.

5: ACTION PLAN: What actions are needed to go from target to target? Put drawings in green for all the things you need to do:

  • to take advantage of your opportunities
  • to avoid or address your challenges
  • to achieve the things you have put in each milestone.

Reflect, Track, Share

Change Journeys

Change Journeys are ‘live plans’ that are tracked over time to assess progress, and also to reflect on reasons for progress or lack of it.

  • Things achieved (milestones, actions, opportunities, challenges) are ringed in red as ripe fruits.
  • Things that did not work/you no longer wish to do are ringed or crossed out in blue as perished.
  • Things that are still in process and still planned are ringed in green. They can be moved from past to future and any new plans/opportunities can also be added in green. Any new challenges added in blue.

The tool, and also your experiences are also shared with other people to exchange experience of which strategies work and which do not.

All the other diagrams should be periodically reviewed on both individual and collective levels for progress – turning green elements red. Identifying new targets and actions in green.

Change Movement

The Empowerment Support Network Map in particular should be tracked, adding new people and institutions and sharing with others.

And remember to keep updating the image of the new beautiful you – free from violence yourself and without violence towards others.