Key Programs Empower Youth to Stand Up to Violence
- CDC’s investments with strategic partners allow for the integration of violence prevention and response into HIV programming, helping to deliver care to those who need it most.
During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign, CDC acknowledges the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying shadow pandemic of violence, impacting youth worldwide. Data and reports have shown that violence against women and girls, particularly intimate partner violence, intensified during the pandemic.
A study conducted in 2021 in Kenya found that more than a quarter (27.6 percent) of adolescent girls and young women experienced intimate partner violence during the pandemic 1. Since the onset of COVID-19, violence prevention and response services have been disrupted, leaving few supportive options for youth who need these services the most. In response to the many challenges, CDC and partners have adapted and prioritized key violence prevention and response services, all to meet young people where they are. This includes accelerating efforts through the No Means No program and LOVES mentor training.
CDC’s collaboration with No Means No Worldwide aims to build the collective capacity of adolescent girls and boys and young women and men to take action to stop sexual assault. Through the No Means No program, girls are empowered to use their voice and body to defend themselves. In addition, boys are taught to challenge unhealthy gender norms and to intervene in safe and productive ways when they witness violence. Through pre-and post-surveys, boys showed a 68 percent improvement, and girls showed a 29 percent improvement in attitudes toward gender equity following the program. Additionally, knowledge about preventing sexual violence improved by 108 percent for boys and 44 percent for girls. Currently, CDC supports No Means No programs in five countries – including Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
“LOVES training equipped me with knowledge and skills on how to receive, support, and offer ongoing connection to adolescent girls and young women reporting violence at the safe space level. Being in a position to offer first-line support to survivors of violence has really increased my self-esteem and courage to identify and refer cases for appropriate services,” said Patricia Auma, mentor, pictured here at LOVES training.
Photo taken by KCCB
CDC continues to expand and ensure the quality of our violence response programs by rolling out first-line support training for mentors through the Listen, Ongoing Connection, Validate, Encourage Safety, and Support (LOVES) training program. LOVES trains peer mentors on appropriately responding to program participants who disclose experiences of violence. Mentors can then refer participants to appropriate services and support. The program also ensures mentors understand secondary trauma and encourages them to build strategies for self-care. Over the last year, CDC conducted four virtual LOVES training sessions with 275 implementing partner staff in 15 countries.
CDC’s investments allow for the integration of violence prevention and response into HIV programming, helping to deliver care to those who need it most. As we pause to recognize the progress made, despite challenges caused by COVID-19, we all must continue to empower youth to stand up to violence, challenge unhealthy gender norms, and intervene in safe and productive ways to prevent violence.