Reply To: Reflect and discuss: VAW prevention principles

Megan Denise Smith

    I think our programme is somewhat accountable to women and girls but could be improved. We are accountable in terms of the participation of women and girls in shaping programme activities and being responsive to their feedback. We use some structured questionnaires as well which help women and girls voice their feedback on activities. We also work with community volunteers, I do think we could improve this though and we are top down in some ways. In other settings I have seen activities really taken up and led by women´s organisations. I do think in Bangladesh we have many structural limitations to ensuring women and girls are taking a lead role in the operations of activities in the way we want to see and there could be much more done in this regard.

    Our programme was based on a gender power analysis. We did understand the socio-cultural dynamics and with our interventions we had to be very careful not to cause further backlash against women and girls who would participate in our programme and create new GBV risks. Its important to note that gendered social norms are constantly changing here and our frontline field staff have different yet similar dynamics in their own community that we need to be aware of as well.

    I don´t think our programme is very inclusive or intersectional. While we have some women with disabilities who attend activities we miss out on many people and we could reach more. I know we also fail in providing services for gender diverse groups. For example, many Hijra, or third gender individuals are not reached in our programming. I wish our programs responded to the needs of all our beneficiaries irrespective of gender, colour, disability status, sexual orientation but I know its not the reality.

    This is what I think we do the best, we really work with women and girls to put them in the driver´s seat of their own safety. We really work to minimise the risk of backlash against them and we do regular risk mapping and safety planning with women, we monitor and address

    I think we could improve on this point as well. I think in the beginning when we trained our staff we had them reflect on power dynamics in their own community but our focus was very much on the refugee community including our volunteers. I think it would be good to have our staff reflect on gender transformative approaches in their own day to day life.