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PRESS RELEASE July 9, 2020

Researchers in Cambodia Receive Award for Innovative Approach to Help Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence

Phnom Penh, July 9, 2020—A research team from the KHANA Center for Population Health Research has won funding to implement a WhatsApp chatline offering 24-hour gender-based violence response and support for female entertainment workers in Cambodia, the World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) announced today.

The 2020 Development Marketplace: Innovations to Address Gender-Based Violence award will enable the researchers at KHANA to test the feasibility and effectiveness of the ‘SMARTgirl Chatline’, which provides 24-hour support via WhatsApp to female entertainment workers in Cambodia who are at risk or survivors of gender-based violence.

“Gender equality is a high priority for the World Bank in Cambodia and it is a strong theme in our Country Partnership Framework. The project by KHANA is an important effort to find ways to keep female workers safe, especially those at the highest risk,” said Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia.

The Development Marketplace, jointly funded by the World Bank and SVRI, is an annual, global competition for researchers to find innovative solutions that can help individuals, communities, and nations prevent and respond to gender-based violence. 

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, evidence has emerged that violence against women and girls, and in particular domestic violence, has intensified around the world due to confinement and lack of access to services. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced partner or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetimes. Researchers have found that gender norms are often at the root of gender-based violence and that shifting community attitudes are critical to helping prevent violence against women and girls.

"The impacts of gender-based violence go far beyond the immediate significant harm to victims and manifest in health impacts, absenteeism and loss of productivity in the workplace, loss of income for families, and effects on the next generation.  The costs to society are steep and persistent," said Caren Grown, Global Director, Gender, World Bank Group. “Through the Development Marketplace awards, researchers around the world are helping accelerate efforts to prevent and address gender-based violence.”

“Research and uptake of research findings is essential for understanding the drivers of violence and the contexts within which they flourish to help identify ways in which we can bring about sustained social change to end violence against women and children.” said Elizabeth Dartnall, Executive Director, Sexual Violence Research Initiative.

In the last four years, $5 million has been awarded by the World Bank Group and SVRI to 50 research projects in more than 32 low- and middle-income economies. The Development Marketplace award is given in memory of all victims of gender-based violence, including Hannah Graham, daughter of a longtime World Bank Group employee. 

This year, Development Marketplace awards will support researchers in Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Jordan, Serbia, South Africa, Vietnam, and a team conducting global research.



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