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By on September 16, 2021

Summary of “U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence: A Listening Session on Prevention”

On Friday September 3, 2021, PreventConnect hosted a listening session where our community had the opportunity to educate policymakers about the needs for prevention in the upcoming U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence. The listeners at this listening session were Carrie Bettinger-Lopez and Rosie Hidalgo, both advisors on The White House Gender Policy Council. This was an exciting opportunity for the PreventConnect community to share their insights about sexual and intimate partner violence prevention across the lifespan.

Carrie Bettinger-Lopez and Rosie Hidalgo provided background information on the upcoming U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and how other countries have created national action plans on gender-based violence. The call for creating a U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence comes from President Biden’s Executive Order on Establishment of the White House Gender Policy Council. Many other countries already have national action plans on gender-based violence, and the United Nations has a handbook for national action plans on violence against women. Some countries have had multiple plans, such as Australia’s fourth national action plan on gender-based violence where primary prevention is listed as the first National Priority.

A few members of the PreventConnect community gave brief remarks about the crucial need for prevention in any national action plan on gender-based violence. Here are some key quotes from each of voices from the field that were featured on this listening session:

“Safety from gender-based violence is found in the fabric of our relationships, our families, and communities, rooted in values of love, mutuality, justice, and collective care….This means that we need to ensure that our plans and actions reflect fundamental values of equitable relationships, solidarity, belonging to the land and to each other, and power with, not relentless competition, and extraction, consumption, and power over.”

“The plan should be intentional in diversifying leadership. It should include survivors, people of color, immigrants, individuals that are differently abled. This would ensure that the individuals making the decisions speak the language and also have a good understanding of and have similar experiences of the individuals that they serve.” 

“A national plan on gender-based violence must recognize shared risk and protective factors and social determinants of health, which often create the conditions for violence to happen in the first place. There should be no siloed efforts specifically for this issue, or heavily restricted funding.”

“We need to work across sectors…Working with climate change advocates that can offer lessons and ways to prepare and prevent violence for generations to come, as these are tied to environmental justice issues…Land justice promotes solidarity economy, which in turn increases food access, alternative health access, restorative justice practices, and an interruption in the cyclical relationship between poverty and violence. A strategy that invests in women’s leadership–not just as heads of organizations–in trans and LGBTQ leadership–not just as heads of organizations but at the community level, helps build the transfer of wealth, the transfer of agency to future generations and promotes decision-making on the part of the most vulnerable.”

Participants in this web conference also got to share their insights on prevention. Participants shared what the term “gender-based violence” means to them, and why prevention is important for a U.S. National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence. Responses highlighted the need for prevention to end gender-based violence, to move upstream, to address root causes of violence, to end intergenerational cycles of violence, and to set the conditions and foundations for wellbeing, health, and prosperity. Participants noted that strategies like comprehensive sex ed should be highlighted in a National Action Plan, as well as strategies like economic justice, trauma healing, and community-level approaches. When asked what data and research are useful and what data gaps need to be improved, participants replied noting a need for research on protective factors, changing social norms, and community prevention effectiveness, as well as studies on returns on prevention investments due to the extraordinarily high cost of sexual and intimate partner violence and room for growth in funding prevention. Participants also highlighted a need to value qualitative and narrative research, as well as intersectional research that reflects the experiences and identities of those living at the margins. The PreventConnect community also provided their suggestions for additional voices to be heard to inform prevention in developing a National Action Plan. Those voices include:

  • youth,
  • queer/trans voices,
  • Black communities,
  • Indigenous communities,
  • communities of color,
  • youth in detention,
  • immigrant communities,
  • community elders,
  • people with disabilities, and
  • offenders and those who work in offender treatment.

With a 55-page-long text chat transcript, it’s no understatement to say that the PreventConnect community is ripe with ideas and insights for advancing sexual and intimate partner violence prevention. It was truly an honor to host this listening session with our listeners, our audience and inspiring voices from the field. The recording of this listening session is available now, and should the recording inspire additional prevention tips to share, participants can continue submitting their ideas here.

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