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By Chelsea Keyser, Program Director | USAID Catalyst Project, Resonance

 

The World Bank estimates that one in three women and girls will experience gender-based violence during her lifetime. In communities that experience severe environmental stress and degradation, incidents increase dramatically. For example, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that after two tropical cyclones in Vanuatu, there was a 300% increase in new cases of domestic violence. Such sobering statistics are prevalent across cultures and continents, and in response to a variety of issues such as climate change, resource scarcity, and environmental degradation.

Resonance is working with USAID to develop more effective prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV) across environmental sectors. Through the Catalyst project, we collaborated with USAID’s Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment to co-design and implement the Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE) Challenge. The Challenge leverages $1.2 million in grant funding to fuel meaningful partnerships between environmental and gender organizations around the world.

“USAID is committed to addressing GBV overall and in the environment sector,” said Chaitra Shenoy, GBV Advisor at USAID. “The long term vision is to foster long term partnerships between gender, environment, and community based organizations…. and  take learnings from RISE grantees and work with USAID colleagues to integrate learnings into environmental activities that are funded by USAID.” 

Launched on August 15, 2019, USAID’s RISE Challenge aims to:

  • Spur greater awareness on the intersection between environmental conservation and GBV;
  • test and measure environmental programming approaches that address GBV;
  • share evidence of effective interventions and policies; and
  • amplify this linkage to attract commitments from other organizations. 

Resonance received over 180 applications from 49 counties and selected five Challenge winners who have developed innovative partnerships to reduce gender-based violence resulting from mining, resource management, and land rights disputes. Two of the winners are receiving USAID funding for the first time. Over the next 2 years, the winners will implement projects in Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo (2), Fiji, and Uganda as follows:

  1. Alliance for Responsible Mining will work in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Development Lab to introduce GBV prevention and response activities into an ongoing project that increases socio-economic opportunities for women miners while reducing environmental impacts in Colombia. 
  2. Action to Protect Women and Abandoned Children will work with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to address GBV and environmental degradation associated with artisanal mining in eastern DRC. 
  3. Women for Women International (WfWI) will work with Innovation and Training for Development and Peace to promote women’s rights and improve women’s access to land and GBV referral systems in DRC.
  4. Marstel-Day will work with Women Influencing Health, Education, and Rule of Law to tackle natural resource conflict and address gender-based risks as part of Fiji’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program’s readiness efforts. 
  5. Trócaire will work with Land Equity Movement of Uganda and the Soroti Catholic Diocese Integrated Development Organization to implement SASA!, a proven methodology that addresses power imbalances between men and women, to address GBV and improve land tenure and property rights in Uganda.

The five grant teams are also forming a cohort to share knowledge and solutions around the increase in GBV—including sexual violence, domestic violence, and forced prostitution—that emerges under environmental threats.

“At the beginning of the design process for this unique Challenge, USAID, IUCN, and Resonance convened an extraordinary stakeholders group,” said Stephen Rahaim, Catalyst Chief of Party. “The team continues to share knowledge and insight at the heart of our efforts to finding innovative solutions to the nexus of GBV in environmental programming. Sourcing a second cohort of innovators will help expand the evidence of what solutions work and build the capacity of organizations to learn and adapt from their own work and that of others.” 

Moving forward, Resonance will support the Challenge by fostering dialogue between the teams, USAID, and the larger global development community. Based on last year’s success, USAID has also reopened the RISE Challenge to identify and fund up to 3 more projects. We look forward to sharing approaches that can help practitioners learn more about how to prevent and deter gender-based violence in environmental programming before it occurs.

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About the RISE Challenge

Launched on August 15, 2019, USAID’s RISE Challenge spurs greater awareness on the intersection between environmental conservation and GBV, tests and measures environmental programming approaches that address GBV, shares evidence of effective interventions and policies, and amplifies this linkage to attract commitments from other organizations. 

About the Catalyst Project

The Catalyst Project supports USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab to design and implement open innovation and challenge programs and activities, including Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) and challenges and prizes. 

Contact Information 

For questions on the RISE Challenge or Catalyst Project, please contact Chelsea Keyser.

EMAIL CHELSEA

 

Photo courtesy of Women for Women International