Stopping Abuse and Female Exploitation (SAFE) is designing, delivering and testing innovative, theory-driven models for the prevention of violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe, including a focus on reaching those most at risk of violence. Community level prevention interventions are being coupled with response interventions to mitigate risks of harm or backlash.
The emergence of COVID-19 brought unforeseen challenges to many organisations especially women-led organisations involved in providing GBV services. The prevailing gender inequalities and economic shocks arising from the pandemic created a potent mix for violence. The sudden onset of the pandemic and restricted movement meant many organisations were unprepared to meet demand. The COVID-19 Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) was able to provide rapid, bespoke call-down technical expertise to frontline organisations responding to GBV during COVID-19:
- Supporting GBV actors to adapt and scale-up services to respond to increased levels of violence whilst ensuring effective control and prevention measures are in place –e.g. through mobile services such as hotlines or ensuring effective Personnel Protective Equipment and policies are in place
- Supporting the wider community of humanitarian actors to respond to COVID-19 and mitigate increased GBV risks
The TAF played a strategic role in Zimbabwe’s GBV response and prevention and important lessons to share with other stakeholders and inform the ongoing programme.
SAFE Communities is working in Mwenezi, Chikomba and Chiredzi districts, using a social and economic empowerment approach to violence prevention alongside supporting response approaches developed by Zimbabwean women’s rights organisations. In Chiredzi, SAFE Communities is implementing a social empowerment curriculum with couples who are already engaged in an existing social protection programme providing humanitarian cash transfers. In Mwenezi and Chikomba SAFE Communities is implementing a social empowerment curriculum plus livelihoods support through community savings and loans associations. By alleviating the economic stress faced by households and equipping intimate partners with the skills to communicate effectively and cooperate, it is also expected that couples will be better able to manage stresses and conflict, so reducing the incidence of Intimate Partner Violence.
To increase the reach of SAFE to women and girls most at risk of violence, SAFE is prioritizing disability inclusion and inclusion of women and girls from varied family structures, such as single-headed households, migrant families and polygamous households.