Gender Based Violence

Using CommCare to Address Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global issue that refers to physical, sexual, psychological, and economic harm resulting from discrimination against a person on the basis of gender.

The majority of people who experience GBV are women, and approximately 70% of women worldwide encounter violence in their lifetime. While the most common form of GBV experienced by women is inflicted by an intimate partner, GBV can also occur in a variety of practices, such as early (childhood) marriage, female feticide, violence during pregnancy, female genital mutilation, honor killings, dowry murder, human trafficking, prostitution, and sexual violence in conflict, including using rape as a weapon of war (UNiTE, 2009).

In order to reduce GBV prevalence, governments and organizations around the world are leading efforts to prevent and respond to GBV. Legal frameworks to protect against common forms of GBV now exist in many countries, while public fervor following high-profile GBV cases has also driven forward legislative and social action. Yet even with widespread support, implementing anti-GBV initiatives has been fraught with challenges. Private and public sector entities are actively seeking innovative responses to effectively prevent and address GBV in various countries around the world.

GBV Programs and Organizations

Outreach to the broad population is difficult and data is sparse on the prevalence and knowledge of GBV.

  • SMS campaigns can be broad-reaching for GBV prevention, helping to engage men and boys, and those who do not see GBV as an issue relevant to them.
  • Increased use of data-generating technology builds foundation for policymaking and development.

Frontline Workforce

Frontline workers may miss cases of GBV due to social stigma or lack of knowledge of how to screen patients.

  • Interactive SMS messaging can be used by health workers to help convey key messages.
  • Applications used in health centers increase adherence to tested, standardized protocols that accurately screen for GBV, thereby enabling health workers to correctly identify cases of GBV.
  • Applications assist frontline workers in referrals by streamlining services available to place survivors with most appropriate service.


Survivors of GBV are afraid to speak up and seek help due to being associated with this issue. Information is not freely circulated due to social stigmas.

  • SMS interactions and interactive voice recognition (IVR) offer the capability of anonymity.
  • Anonymous discussion can help reduce barriers of social stigma and shame.
  • Anonymous interaction minimizes interviewer bias because user can share information more freely and directly.
  • SMS interactions and IVR convey information about referral facilities when available.
  • Mobile technology enables wider access to services to those in rural areas or those who cannot visit GBV centers after initial outreach.
  • IVR empowers low-literate populations to participate in GBV information sharing and counseling.


Additional Resources

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