There is an increasing emphasis on conducting research to identify gender based violence issues to enable development of appropriate programs and interventions. However, these efforts are mixed in quality and often raise ethical questions. The increased pressure on policy makers to move to a more evidence-based approach in addressing gender based issues creates the need for this research prioritization activity. Inadequate evaluative evidence in this area poses a challenge in the planning for responsive interventions especially in resource limited settings. The purpose of this paper is to present gender based violence research priority areas for the WHO Africa Region.
Methods: We utilized a modified version of the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative approach to reach consensus on research priorities on the thematic area of gender based violence. In three phases, we first conducted an online survey with sexual and reproductive health and rights experts in academia, ministries of health, non-governmental organizations and other health actors with a wide range of experiences. These questions were consolidated by three experts from World Health Organization headquarters into themes. Secondly, experts were invited in a meeting in Cape Town South Africa to analyze and generate relevant areas of research based on the themes. Finally, a smaller group of experts prioritized research areas based on agreed criteria.
Results: A list of 10 priority research questions for addressing gender based violence were scored and ranked. Four priority research questions scored 30 points out of the possible 30 points and were thus ranked as the highest priority. These included questions that “engage young adolescents in behavioral interventions to influence gender roles”, “determinants of gender based violence analysis”, “both long and short term complications of gender based violence on survivors” and “assessment of men’s involvement in addressing gender-based violence against women”. The second most highly ranked question was on the assessment of the extent and strategies to prevent gender-based violence in the context of humanitarian crises.
Conclusions: Priority research questions for addressing gender based violence were identified. This exercise provides a three year investment case for research with high potential of effectively identifying interventions with high impact on addressing gender based violence.