Gender-based violence (GBV) is a drain on human capital development, poverty reduction, and growth; directly undermining the core objective of social protection. It has substantial costs that disproportionately affect poorer women and girls.
A growing body of research demonstrates that safety nets overwhelmingly reduce GBV. Given their growing reach around the world, safety nets have the potential to contribute even more systematically to the reduction of GBV at scale.
According to research, there are three direct pathways through which safety nets reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and other forms of GBV: 1) by reducing poverty and food insecurity; 2) by empowering women; and 3) by increasing women’s social capital through participation in program activities.
How the World Bank supports countries
As of early 2023, more than 20 World Bank-financed social protection programs integrate GBV prevention and response, with more projects underway. The most common interventions include adapting outreach and community engagement to change gender norms and perceptions around GBV; adjusting accompanying measures like life skills trainings, behavioral change sessions, and savings groups for GBV prevention; developing GBV-sensitive grievance mechanisms to effectively record and respond to GBV cases in a survivor-centric manner; and strengthening referral pathways. Entry points for GBV prevention and risk mitigation exist all along the social protection delivery chain.
To support more systematic GBV prevention and risk mitigation in operations, a set of resources has been developed for practitioners:
- Safety First: How to leverage safety nets to prevent GBV [PDF]: This toolkit provides an overview of recent evidence on cash transfers and GBV, along with operational guidance on how to optimize social safety net program design and implementation to prevent GBV and empower women.
- Safety First e-learning course: Launched in 2022, the 90-minute self-paced course provides a brief overview of the recent impact evaluation literature on cash transfers and GBV, and introduces design and implementation tips at different stages of the social protection delivery chain to empower women and amplify the preventive potential of safety nets. The course was designed for a general audience.
- Safety First videos: A set of short 2-3 minute videos explain different design decisions along the social protection delivery cycle that impact GBV, such as who should receive the transfer, should transfers be paid digitally or manually, or how does the size and frequency of transfer impact GBV.
- Safety First Handout: A summary of the key questions and design tips to prevent and respond to GBV at the four main stages of the project delivery cycle.
This work was financed through a grant from the World Bank’s Rapid Social Response and Adaptive and Dynamic Social Protection Trust Fund Umbrella Program, which is supported by Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation without which this work would not have been possible.