Engaging Faith-Based Organizations to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls and Increase Survivors' Access to Services in Liberia

The root causes of violence against women and girls are embedded in family and community dynamics. In post-conflict countries like Liberia the challenges of tackling and changing attitudes, behaviors and cultural norms are exacerbated by the previous experiences of widespread violence. While government efforts are understandably focused on providing services to and justice for survivors; it is often civil society organizations, particularly faith-based ones that tackle attitudes and behaviors that can contribute to violence. Faith institutions, clergy and lay leaders, are uniquely positioned to promote attitudes and behaviors that prevent violence and create an enabling environment for survivors. Clergy engage with couples, families, youth, men and women leaders in a variety of ways during their lives and guide knowledge, attitude and behavior change quite closely. Through sermons, religious teachings, marriage preparation, marriage counseling, family counseling, retreats, and revivals, clergy will influence the cultural and behavioral norms prevalent in a community. Lay leaders will also be trained as agents of change and then facilitate learning-action dialogues with members. Training and equipping youth leaders and engaging particularly male teens is a critical key to the project's success – as engaging adolescents is a prime period for shaping attitudes about gender roles, interpersonal conflict resolution and other drivers for prevention of VAW/G. The Christian and Muslim youth movements in Liberia are strong and active and will serve as a vital asset in the project. Episcopal Relief & Development and our long-term Liberian partner, the Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development have a proven track record in social behavior change communication and programs that address malaria prevention and control, agricultural development and rehabilitation, and education. The church will link these experiences and networks to more traditional faith based counseling and teaching formats and knowledge of other faith based institutions to address the root behavior and cultural norms underlying VAW/G and impunity for perpetrators. Faith-based organizations will engage all at the local level to map and network with available services for violence survivors and serve as referral sources to connect them. They will also organize assistance to help survivors overcome obstacles to receiving needed services. In this way, they expect to mitigate the challenges of providing integrated services particularly in rural areas where disperse populations, poor transportation, and lack of coordinated information is the norm. ERD and ECL-RD’s close collaboration with the government and other key stakeholders on GBV will also increase the project’s reach and effectiveness. In areas where there are inadequate services, and as a member of the Ministry of Gender and Development’s GBV Task Force, ECL-RD will advocate for additional government and other stakeholder support to fill gaps in needed services across the continuum. The project has four key areas of intervention: 1. Developing capacities of community groups and leaders – the project engages leaders and members of faith groups, each church and mosque has a men’s group, a women’s group, a youth group, and some also have a girls’ faith group. 2. Engaging new partners – men and boys through faith groups, and traditional leaders. 3. Changing individual knowledge and attitudes – the starting point is clergy, lay leaders, faith group members, congregants, and traditional leaders. The positive influence will also target cultural norms and behaviors related to prevention of violence and support to survivors. 4. Enhancing multi sectorial referral systems – the local faith-based organizations and project staff will disseminate information about available services and provide referrals at the community level, connecting to district, county, and national levels. The project will implement evidenced-based strategies for social & behavior change. An adaptation of the BEHAVE Framework (from the Academy of Educational Development) includes barrier analysis so that specific drivers and motivations can be targeted in the messaging developed. Clergy and lay leaders will be trained in the Facts, Association, Meaning and Action Learning-Dialogue approach (FAMA), which they will then facilitate with their group members.

Activities

Field test modules from faith leader toolkit with end users at county level, B. Revise modules based on results of field testing with guidance from interfaith technical working group, Training of Trainers on Revised Faith Leaders GBV Toolkit, Conduct training of trainers for specific faith leaders and ECL-RD staff on general and GBV-specific participatory training methods, Print and distribute revised modules to participating faith leaders, Train faith leaders at county level on revised modules, Train youth leaders of faith based social organizations on FAMA learning-action dialogue approach for GBV prevention and response at county level., Man Up Campaign training of youth trainers at county level and follow up workshops, Trained faith-based youth group leaders facilitate FAMA learning-action dialogues and other participatory learning opportunities with members of their groups to promote attitude and behavior change for prevention of VAW/G., Train youth from faith group coalition and school clubs by "Flomo" Theater group (refresher training in Grand Cape Mount and first training in River Cess),Train youth on using drama for increasing GBV awareness among their group members, students and the wider community at county-level, Youth coalitions organize activities for 16 Days of Activism events (i.e. drama skit, sports competition, etc.) at county level, Establish coalition of county-level faith-based youth associations with assistance of the program’s already established partnerships with the National Muslim Students Association of Liberia (NMSAL) and Diocesan Episcopal Youth Council, Produce FAMA cards, Enforce Liberia’s national "Code of Conduct for Teachers and School Administrators" (2014) in schools in program target areas (i.e. post code of conduct in schools; stakeholders designate confidential focal person for cases of misconduct and guidance for students),Youth coalition members conduct consultation meetings with students (five youth leaders from Muslim and Christian groups), Youth coalition members conduct school-based GBV prevention and response activities with students (i.e. code of conduct awareness using drama and FAMA),Map GBV stakeholders and services and build networks in River Cess County, Semiannual county-level GBV referral service provider roundtables, to assess and document quality, availability/usage and linkages between services and develop action plan for improvement (2/county),Program staff participate in Ministry of Gender's monthly county-level and GBV Task Force meetings with key stakeholders to get up-to-date information on GBV and ensure faith leaders’ perspective, program interventions and other important issues are on the agenda, Organize district level semiannual meetings with GBV service providers, other relevant stakeholders and County GBV Task Force, TWG conducts quarterly meetings to revise action plans for county-level support and provide feedback on any other activities or program related issues, Interfaith technical working group on GBV formed and meeting regularly, to serve as an advisory body for faith leader curriculum development and faith leader engagement activities, Faith leaders and program staff engage county and national-level stakeholders in the 16 Days of Activism and the We Will Speak Out (WWSO) platform by organizing annual awareness and education events, Establish county-level faith leader GBV prevention and response coalition, Faith leaders use toolkit to guide their GBV prevention work (i.e. sermons, retreats, etc.) and to promote participation in "We Will Speak Out" platform at the county-level, Faith leaders (TWG members and county-level imams and clergy) participate in semi-monthly radio programs to be broadcast at the county level, Faith leaders share lessons learned and promote replication of project activities in other district or counties by engaging other Christian and Muslim clergy at semi-annual meetings of the IRCL using "We Will Speak Out" platform, TWG conducts county-level planning workshop on toolkit and action planning (1/county),TWG with the support of the IRCL supports, monitors and reports on faith leaders GBV work at the county level

Cross-cutting issues

Institution Strengthening, Gender

Locations

  • Liberia

Sectors

  • Capacity Strengthening for CSOs (general)
  • Protection
  • Gender

Other projects