How to Counter Gender-Based Violence Through Innovation

Article | March 8, 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are recognizing nine global innovators with bold approaches to counter gender-based violence (GBV). GBV is estimated to affect more than one in three women worldwide, negatively impacting women’s health, education, economic, and political opportunities. 

The Link Between Gender-Based Violence and the Environment 

Here we focus on one key sector where GBV is prevalent, but often under-addressed: Environmental programming. GBV and environmental issues are linked, and their interactions are complex, diverse, and multilayered. Research shows that environmental degradation, loss of ecosystem benefits, and unsustainable resource use create crises that disproportionately affect women and girls.  

For example, women are often knowledgeable about natural resources and responsible for gathering forest products, but lack representation in forest management. As a result, women may face violence such as beatings, verbal or sexual harassment, rape, or murder when they use or manage forest resources. 

While GBV and environmental issues have typically been addressed separately, informed and integrated approaches are needed to improve outcomes for both women and the environment. 

The RISE Challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment 

USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GenDev) Hub is working with the Catalyst Project, implemented by Resonance, to design, launch, and manage Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE): A Challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment. RISE is an open innovation competition to support the innovative application of promising or proven solutions to address gender-based violence in environmental programming.  

With $1.8 million in funding, the RISE team has selected nine winners to implement projects in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Fiji, Guatemala, Kenya, Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam.  

The RISE Challenge is supporting these organizations over the next two years as they address several areas of concern, including GBV and land rights, GBV in artisanal and small-scale mining, GBV in conservation, GBV against indigenous women, and GBV in resource-based conflicts.  

Nine Global Innovators with Solutions to Gender-Based Violence  

Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Strengthening Land Rights 


1) Trócaire 

Trócaire is working with the Land Equity Movement of Uganda (LEMU) and Soroti Catholic Diocese Integrated Development Organization (SOCADIDO) to address GBV and improve land tenure and property rights for women in Uganda. Trócaire anticipates reaching nearly 28,000 beneficiaries by engaging the community through the SASA! Faith approach and using a gender-sensitive alternative dispute resolution mechanism to resolve land conflict.

 2) Women for Women International 

(WfWI) is working with Innovation and Training for Development and Peace (IFDP) to promote women’s rights by engaging male leaders and community members. The initiative is improving 300 women’s access to land, while also ensuring women have access to gender-based violence support services in the DRC. Learn more about the project here

Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining 


3) Action to Protect Women and Abandoned Children 

(ASEFA) is working with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and two other women-led local organizations to address gender-based violence and environmental degradation associated with artisanal mining in the eastern DRC. The program is engaging 720 participants in a 9-month training program. 

4) The Alliance for Responsible Mining 

(ARM) is working with MIT D-Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to address GBV in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in Colombia. The program has completed an in-depth gender analysis and is using a movement building approach that will benefit 50 women miners from four mining communities. Learn more about the project here

Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Conservation 


5) Conservation International Foundation 

(CI) is working with PROMSEX to shift harmful gender norms and beliefs about women’s and men’s roles in society, the sanctioning of violence, and community processes for dealing with violence in Peru’s Nuwas Forest.

6) Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association 

(KWCA) is working with Fauna & Flora International, CARE Kenya, Centre for Rights Education and Awareness, and Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association to address GBV that contributes to inequitable access to and control of natural resources in conservancies in Kenya.

7) WildAct-Vietnam 

WildAct-Vietnam is working with CARE Vietnam and the Vietnam Association of National Parks and Protected Areas to empower local women, leaders, and conservation organizations in Vietnam to address the challenges of gender inequality, harassment, and unsafe working environments that women face in wildlife conservation.

Addressing Gender-Based Violence Against Indigenous Women 

8) Community Forestry Association of Guatemala Utz Che’ 

(Utz Che’) is working with Trees, Water & People to address gender-based violence in community forestry in southern and eastern Guatemala, where natural resource conflicts are an extension of past and recurring injustices to rural communities, particularly to indigenous women. Learn more about their project here

Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Resource-Based Conflicts 

9) Marstel-Day 

Marstel-Day is working with WI-HER, the University of the South Pacific, the Fiji Environmental Law Association, Live & Learn Environmental Education, and Fiji’s REDD+ Programme to promote gender equity and transformation by tackling resource-based conflict and GBV in Fiji.

International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the widespread challenges that women and girls continue to face while also celebrating ongoing global efforts to promote gender equity, reduce gender-based violence, and promote women’s economic empowerment.  

Across eight countries in five continents, USAID’s RISE Challenge innovators are helping to reduce gender-based violence in their target communities, inspire environmental organizations to address GBV, and generate tools, resources, and learnings that can help make the world safer, less violent, and more equal for women and girls. 

Photo credit:  Marlon del Aguila

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