For decades, advocates and researchers have stressed the need to collect more data on both violence against children and violence against women and have pushed to make sure data is disaggregated by sex, age and geography.
There are few high-quality population-based data sets that measure various aspects of violence against children and women. One comprehensive household survey instrument that collects a wealth of information on the drivers, circumstances, prevalence and consequences of violence is the Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS).
Findings from the VACS demonstrate that while boys and girls often face similar risks for violence, there is significant variation in experiences of violence based on gender and age, as well as contextual factors including social norms around gender roles and stereotypes and violence.
With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and in partnership with Together for Girls and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AidData, a Research Lab at the College of William & Mary, undertook analyses using the VACS and additional data sets to examine the relationship between schools and violence in several countries. This brief describes the results from an analysis in which AidData researchers triangulated data from Côte d’Ivoire’s Afrobarometer survey and the VACS conducted in 2018 to examine the relationship between gender norms, education, and violence in Côte d’Ivoire.
Gender norms are widely recognized by researchers, policymakers, advocates, and activists as a key driver for violence against children and women. Violence against women and children is both a manifestation of gender inequality and a mechanism by which that inequality is reinforced.
Measuring violence and gathering data on prevalence, perpetration, and the contexts in which violence is experienced, as well as risk and protective factors is essential to understanding the scope of violence and inform effective policies and programing to prevent and respond to violence.
The Côte d’Ivoire Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) is a nationally representative household survey of children and young adults aged 13-24 years. It was administered in 2018 by Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Women, Families, and Children, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), across 73 departments. It measures the prevalence and circumstances surrounding emotional, physical and sexual violence against males and females in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.
For this analysis, AidData geospatially linked individual-level Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) violence variables to variables from the Afrobarometer survey, which assesses attitudes of adult respondents on a variety of topics.
This was completed by aggregating relevant Afrobarometer variables to the department level and matching the resulting averages to Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) responses based on the respondent’s survey location. The analysis sought to elucidate the correlations between violence against girls, particularly school-related gender-based violence, and variables from the Afrobarometer, including attitudes toward gender equality, women’s rights, and education as a governmental priority.
Linking the Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) and Afrobarometer provides useful information on the relationship between violence against girls, particularly school-related gender-based violence, and attitudes toward gender equality and education at the department level.
Result 1: Recognition of gender inequality and women’s rights as important problems facing the country is associated with decreased prevalence of physical violence against girls.
Broadly speaking, community-wide recognition of gender inequality and women’s rights as one of the most important problems facing the country is associated with decreased prevalence of physical violence against girls, but also increased prevalence of sexual violence against girls (see data note 2).
In addition, areas where there is a higher relative ratio of women to men who believe that gender inequality and women’s rights are important issues to address have lower prevalence of intimate partner physical violence, peer physical violence and school-related sexual violence against girls than do areas with a lower relative ratio.
Result 2: Specific gender norms may have an impact on teacher-perpetrated violence.
Departments in which the community as a whole is more likely to identify gender inequality and women’s rights as a top priority have lower prevalence of teacher-perpetrated physical violence against both males and females than do departments in which the community is less likely to identify these issues as a priority.
In particular, departments in which men identified gender inequality and women’s rights as a top priority have lower prevalence of teacher-perpetrated physical violence against girls than do departments in which men are less likely to identify these issues as a priority (see note 3 below).
In addition, departments in which women are more likely to support female political leaders have lower prevalence of corporal punishment against boys than do departments in which women are less supportive of female political leaders. However, norms among women in support of women holding office are not correlated with teacher-perpetrated physical violence against girls.
Result 3: Attainment of secondary education is associated with more gender equitable attitudes among girls.
Attending secondary school is associated with more equitable norms for girls. Among girls who completed primary school or less, 72 percent endorsed one or more negative or inequitable beliefs about gender, sexual practices, or intimate partner violence (IPV), compared to just 60 percent of girls who attended or completed secondary school or more. Attending secondary school is not associated with more equitable norms for boys.
The following outline recommendations for policymakers, decision-makers, practitioners, researchers, advocates, and educators:
Given the dearth of disaggregated data on violence against children and violence against women, additional efforts to maximize the use of available data are the most accessible entry point to better understand the relationship between gender norms and different forms of violence. Governments and donors should invest in additional analyses of existing data, as well as more data triangulation between different data sources to inform policy and programs.
Different forms of violence may be associated with specific gender norms and attitudes, and trends may vary across geographies. For instance, in Côte d’Ivoire, sexual violence does not seem to be connected to attitudes around the importance of gender issues but may be more connected to norms around women’s sexuality and decision making in the context of sex, which is outside the scope of this research. In order to ensure that policies and interventions to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in schools, and violence writ large, are impactful, research to inform policies and interventions should measure attitudes around gender, including specific attitudes around gendered violence, and education.
While more research is needed, there exists ample evidence from the VACS and data sources demonstrating that gender inequitable norms and attitudes are drivers of violence targeting girls and boys, as well as gender-non-conforming children and adolescents. Schools are crucial venues for transformational social changes to prevent violence and promote the health, well-being, and positive educational outcomes of all children and adolescents. Resources like UNGEI’s Whole School Approach to Preventing School-Related Gender-Based Violence and Raising Voices’ Good School Toolkit provide critical guidance for implementing concrete approaches to gender-transformative violence prevention efforts in schools.
With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and in partnership with Together for Girls and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the AidData Research Lab at the College of William & Mary undertook analyses using the Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) and additional data sets to examine the relationship between schools and violence in several countries.
This brief describes the results from an analysis in which AidData researchers triangulated data from Côte d’Ivoire’s Afrobarometer survey and the VACS conducted in 2018 to examine the relationship between gender norms, education, and violence in Côte d’Ivoire.
Afrobarometer is a non-partisan, pan-African research institution that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, the economy and society in more than 30 countries in Africa.
Director of Policy & Advocacy; Regional Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa Regional Research Advisor
This resource provides evidence that VACS data and associated processes contribute to meaningful policy change and action to end violence against children and adolescents and gender-based violence.
Explore the results from a secondary analysis of VACS data by Together for Girls, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Global Affairs Canada.
Data on school-related gender-based violence in Côte d'Ivoire.
This country fact sheet provides an overview of the data found in Côte d'Ivoire's VACS report
Explore the data in Côte d'Ivoire's Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) report.
On May 11-13, 2022, senior government officials and civil society leaders from over 30 African countries gathered at the Pan-African symposium on violence prevention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Together for Girls is promoting meaningful partnerships amongst local agencies to catalyze full scale support for children.
We have conducted secondary analyses of the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) to understand the prevalence, consequences, and gender-specific experiences of violence in and around schools.
Social norms drive gender inequalities and violence, and even though access to education is a human right, learners across the globe are impacted by school-related gender-based violence.
Every child deserves to be safe at home, in their communities, and at school. However, findings from the VACS show that many children experience school-related gender-based violence. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Violence Against Children and Youth Survey report, reveals new data about the state of violence against children throughout Côte d’Ivoire, but also, pointing to critical facts that were previously unknown.
Every child around the world deserves the opportunity to learn. Education is a basic human right and a necessary pathway to ending extreme poverty. We know that equitable, quality education has an immense power to transform the lives of individuals, communities, and nations.