The "Funding Ethically" initiative by SVRI crafted essential guidelines to assist funders in ethically financing research focused on combatting violence against women and children in low- and middle-income nations.
While funding for initiatives addressing violence against women (VAW) has seen a general increase, recent estimates indicate that investment in this crucial area over the past five years remains shockingly meager, comprising less than 1 percent of total Official Development Assistance (ODA). Even more concerning is the fact that within this fraction, less than 0.05 percent is directed toward research on violence against women. Moreover, this limited allocation predominantly gravitates toward high-income countries or research endeavors led by institutions and researchers from these countries.
A substantial increase in resources must be directed towards research endeavors in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of violence against women and violence against children is most pronounced. These initiatives should be spearheaded by researchers hailing from these nations. Simultaneously, there's a pressing need to foster robust collaborations between local researchers and activists. We know that the way in which research and knowledge building is funded in LMICs can be a powerful lever for change. How the projects and partnerships are resourced lays the foundation for the creation of effective, impactful, and contextually based research initiatives, programs and policies.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, the SVRI actively engaged in multiple initiatives aimed at securing increased and enhanced funding for research centered on violence against women and violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. The resources in our resulting Advocacy Toolkit highlight the inequities and power imbalances in how research is conceived, conducted and resourced, and provide knowledge to advocate for rebalancing power and shifting resources, in better ways, to LMICs and LMIC-based researchers. These are:
- Tracking funding for research on VAW in LMICs study examines who is funding VAW research, and how much money is being allocated towards this.
- Global Shared Research Agenda (GSRA), details research questions identified, through participatory global processes, by the field as key priority areas and knowledge gaps.
- Funding Ethically Guidelines looks at how to better fund research on VAW and VAC in LMICs.
The Funding Ethically project supports and builds on these different processes (what needs to be funded and where the money is for this) and contributes to advocacy on how resources are being allocated.
What We Did
The SVRI used multiple complementary methods to create the guidelines. We reviewed a range of resources and materials and consulted with funders, activists, practitioners, and researchers from Africa, Asia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe. The guidance was developed over several months using a multi-step process which included:
- A scoping review of the available literature.
- Focus group discussions (FGDs) with researchers, funders and practitioners, held in July 2021. The objectives of these were:
- To understand funder perspectives on challenges, gaps and needs in the field of funding research/programming on violence against women and violence against children in low- and middle-income countries.
- To ensure that the perspectives of researchers and practitioners from low- and middle-income countries on funding VAW and VAC research in LMICs were understood, shared and incorporated into the guidance.
- Online Survey: Based on findings from the focus groups and identification of key themes, an online survey tool was created. The survey was widely disseminated through the SVRI Update (the SVRI’s weekly newsletter) as well as to regional networks. The survey was available in French, Spanish and English.
We hope that this guidance can contribute to building better funding processes that recognise and deal with power imbalances between funders and their recipients by:
- Clarifying fundamental principles that underpin the concept of "better funding," rooted in comprehensive inputs from the field.
- Shifting the perspective on funders as collaborative and equitable partners, jointly dedicated to generating evidence that advances responses and prevents violence against women and children in low- and middle-income countries.
- Serving as a pragmatic manual for funders, offering actionable steps to translate these principles into tangible practices.
- Championing the adoption and utilization of numerous valuable resources that facilitate diverse approaches to funding considerations.