Gender norms, education, and violence against girls and women: Lessons from Côte d’Ivoire

Using VACS and Afrobarometer data to examine the relationship between gender norms and multiple forms of violence

The need for disaggregated data

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 disagreggated 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.  

Afrobarometer - Gender norms, education, and violence against girls and women: Lessons from 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.

Gendered Drivers of Violence

 

Gender norms are widely recognized by researchers, policy-makers, advocates, and activists as a key driver for violence against children and women. Numerous UN declarations and instruments recognize violence against women and children as 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 understand the scope of violence and inform effective policies and programming to prevent and respond to violence.

 

.

Research background

The Côte d’Ivoire 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 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 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 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 (SRGBV), and variables from the Afrobarometer, including attitudes toward gender equality, women’s rights, and education as a governmental priority.

 

Linking the VACS and Afrobarometer provides useful information on the relationship between violence against girls, particularly SRGBV, and attitudes toward gender equality and education at the department level.

CDI VACS cover - Gender norms, education, and violence against girls and women: Lessons from Côte d’Ivoire

Highlighted results

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% endorsed one or more negative or inequitable beliefs about gender, sexual practices, or intimate partner violence (IPV), compared to just 60% of girls who attended or completed secondary school or more. Attending secondary school is not associated with more equitable norms for boys.

iStock 182061944 - Gender norms, education, and violence against girls and women: Lessons from Côte d’Ivoire

Key recommendations

Recommendations for policy- and decision-makers, practitioners, researchers, advocates, and educators

 

Make the most of existing data on gender norms and violence against children and women. 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.  

 

Invest in research to better understand the relationship between gender norms, attitudes toward education, and violence against children and women. 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.

 

Commit to gender-transformative education and approaches to prevent violence in schools. 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. 

  1. Data limited to 51 departments of the 109 departments in Cote d’Ivoire
  2. The Afrobarometer asks respondents, “In your opinion, what are the most important problems facing this country that the government should address?” The three most important problems cited by the respondent are then recorded. We create a binary variable that is 0 if the respondent does not list gender issues/women’s rights as one of the top three problems, and 1 if they do. Any gender-related response given by a respondent is coded as “women’s rights/gender issues,” so the exact nature of the gender-related problem reported by respondents is not available.
  3. Includes teacher-perpetrated corporal punishment and teacher-perpetrated violence that may occur outside of the school setting

About the Project

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), the AidData 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. 

iStock 903600926 1 - Gender norms, education, and violence against girls and women: Lessons from Côte d’Ivoire

Read More Safe Articles:

World AIDS Day 2021: End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics.

World AIDS Day 2021: End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics. Ending gender inequality and sexual violence to create a safer, AIDS-free future On December 1, we honor World AIDS Day, a day to show support for those living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. It’s also a day to  [...]

Six Ways to Commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

30 years of commemorating the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Galvanizing support to end violence against women and girls around the world This year is the 30th anniversary of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.” Established in 1991, the 16 Days (November 25-December 10) raise awareness and galvanize global support to [...]

The Inaugural World Day to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents

The Inaugural World Day to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents Preventing abuse and fighting for healing and justice for survivors Today is the Inaugural World Day for Prevention, Healing and Justice to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents. #EndChildSexAbuseDay or #Nov18WorldDay is an opportunity to acknowledge the horrific magnitude of sexual violence [...]