WASHINGTON, D.C., September 15, 2022 — The first comprehensive review of country experiences following Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) provides evidence that the process of undertaking a VACS and the “Data to Action” model contributes to policy change and action to end violence against children and adolescents and gender-based violence. The global landscape analysis, “The power of Data to Action: Country experiences and lessons following Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys” was led by The City of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and University Research Co., LLC as part of the Implementation Science Collaborative supported through USAID’s Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) project.
The analysis aimed to document learning around processes in the Data to Action model associated with undertaking a VACS and included perspectives from 225 stakeholders across 20 countries. Stakeholders from every participating country reported that VACS data, and the post-survey processes, effectively propelled important policy and programmatic changes to end violence against children. As a part of the post-survey processes, many countries passed or advanced the implementation of laws related to abolishing child marriage (nine countries), banning corporal punishment (10 countries), and child safety (13 countries).
The VACS are the single largest global data source for violence against children worldwide. These nationally representative, population-based household surveys generate a wide range of groundbreaking information about multiple forms of violence (sexual, physical, and emotional) and provide important data on context, risk factors, protective factors, and consequences. Led by national governments with technical assistance and support from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners, they are implemented as part of the Together for Girls partnership.
Over the last decade, the VACS fundamentally transformed countries’ abilities to understand and address violence against children, adolescents, and youth at scale. To date, the VACS have been or are being carried out in 23 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Southeast Asia, and Europe, providing data on 12 percent of the world’s children, adolescents, and young people (under age 24).
Key findings from the landscape analysis include:
The VACS data, and associated processes to use the data, provide evidence that violence against children and adolescents is a knowable, solvable problem. VACS data provides the foundation for developing interventions that work and measuring progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Coordination across sectors is critical to driving change. Strong, government-led multisectoral coordination is the single most important factor in translating VACS results into positive action for children. Multisectoral coordination plays a role in every step of the VACS process.
VACS data generate learning and action. VACS data and associated capacity-building processes generate learning and action, build capacity, and inform national responses to end violence against children.
All areas of VAC need more funding. Gaps in funding is a barrier in all aspects of prevention and response to VAC beginning with the survey itself, to post-VACS efforts. Almost 90 percent of survey respondents cite inadequate funding as a barrier to post-VACS efforts.
“It starts with data, but it doesn’t stop there,” said Samantha Ski, Senior Implementation Research Scientist at University Research Co., LLC (URC) and co-author of the report. “We know that VACS data is an important tool to inform and drive systems-based actions across sectors to prevent and respond to violence against girls and boys. By using the data to drive action and multisectoral systems change, country stakeholders can effectively address violence against children and youth.”
“It’s heartening to see the progress made in so many countries as a result of the VACS and post-VACS process,” said Kathleen Cravero, Distinguished Lecturer at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and co-author of The Data to Action report. “We know what we need for transformational change: more funding, political will, and coordination across sectors.”
The landscape analysis of country efforts following VACS is one of three components of a broader Implementation Science Collaborative partner effort to document and support learning around Data to Action following VACS. The other two components include: (1) focused support to VACS national action plans in select countries; and (2) the development of tools and dissemination of lessons learned from the landscape analysis and in-country work. In addition, an article was published on the use of VACS data in peer-reviewed literature.
To learn more about “The power of Data to Action” landscape analysis, visit togetherforgirls.org/the-power-of-data-to-action. An accompanying summary report, produced by Together for Girls, highlights key findings from the research. To learn more about the VACS process or use the data for your own research, visit togetherforgirls.org/about-the-vacs.
About Together for Girls
Ending violence against children cannot be solved by a single actor or sector alone. Together for Girls is a global partnership to end sexual violence against children and adolescents. Active in over 20 countries, Together for Girls unites actors that often do not work together, including national governments, United Nations entities, the private sector, civil society, and survivors. Through data and advocacy, Together for Girls drives action to break cycles of violence and ensure prevention, healing, and justice. To learn more, visit togetherforgirls.org.
About the Implementation Science Collaborative
The Implementation Science Collaborative (ISC) is a partnership committed to improving the use of real-time evidence for the implementation and advancement of health policies and programs in low and middle-income countries. It is a major output emerging from the Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) Project, funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under cooperative agreement AID-OAA-A-17-00002. The project team includes prime recipient, University Research Co., LLC (URC) and sub-recipient organizations.
Alexandra Tucci Thomas