Avon Products, in partnership with Vital Voices, commits $1 million in new funding to support 10 new Justice Institutes in 2017 and 2018. The target countries are still to be determined, but will likely represent global markets where Avon has yet to fund Institutes, such as Italy, Poland, Russia, Turkey and the UK. An additional five countries will be selected based on the determination of where previously held Institutes are ready to expand the knowledge and collaborations that have already been established. The funding will cover the cost of creating customized curricula with local experts to train multi-disciplinary participants to identify and respond to cases of violence against women with equal emphasis on prevention, protection, and prosecution tactics and in coordination with local survivor advocates. During the Institutes, participants receive training on a survivor-centered approach to offender accountability focused on the needs and safety of survivors. Participants also receive training on how and why to collaborate across disciplines, particularly utilizing women leaders and NGO service providers. Therefore, training outcomes include participants increased knowledge on not only how to identify, investigate and prosecute cases involving violence against women, but also why it is important for them to do so. Through this process, Avon hopes to create attitudinal shifts regarding gender-based violence.
The most effective response to violence against women is a coordinated one. This requires that members of the criminal justice system (law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, etc.) work collaboratively with the women leaders in their communities who are providing services to survivors, advocating for the passage of legislation, and demanding that laws be enforced in a survivor-friendly, survivor-centered fashion. Collaboration across disciplines ensures that the safety, security, and dignity of survivors are the first priorities. This commitment aims to provide the stakeholders and advocates with a common set of tools and resources to support survivors of gender-based violence; centering all training on the survivors experience and perspective. Avon will train 50 participants at each Institute location. The breakdown of participants at each Institute is roughly: 10 local NGO representatives; 10 law enforcement officers; 10 prosecutors; 10 judges; and 10 government-based service providers (ex: Department of Women and Children, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Health, etc.). Between 2017 and 2018, Avon will train 500 multi-disciplinary participants, 100 from each of the aforementioned sectors. Furthermore, since the training includes individuals from a wide spectrum of organizations and backgrounds within the community, an additional outcome is the improved communication, coordination, and collaboration between the different sectors when working on future cases of gender-based violence.
Avon does not foresee major risks associated with implementing the Justice Institutes. The locations are chosen based the existence legislation which can be utilized by justice system actors. Avon also includes local experts as faculty members in the trainings.
The Avon Foundation for Women commits new funding in the amount of $1 million to train 500 participants in 10 countries over the course of two years from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018.
Planning Phase (January March 2017): In each Justice Institute location, Vital Voices works with a local partner. This local partner receives financial support for their services and provides Vital Voices with critical insight into not only the local laws and actors, but also important logistic details such as the best dates to carry out the Justice Institute, informing us of local holidays, cultural preferences, and the availability of potential faculty members and participants. In addition to a Vital Voices staff member with years of experience prosecuting cases of sexual assault and domestic violence, one or two U.S.-based judges, lawyers, or service providers from the Vital Voices network are invited to serve as a faculty member during the Institute.
The local partner also assists in identifying faculty members and participants from each of the targeted disciplines. The Justice Institute model emphasizes peer learning; therefore, an ideal group of participants includes both relatively inexperienced and seasoned professionals, and both individuals who have a good understanding of domestic and sexual violence laws and have demonstrated a survivor-centered approach to their work, as well as individuals who have demonstrated a gender-biased attitude in their work.
During the planning phase, Vital Voices works with the local partner and other local experts to develop the curriculum for the Institute. The local partner highlights the most pertinent challenges to implementing existing domestic violence and sexual assault laws and effectively prosecuting domestic and sexual violence cases in their country so that Vital Voices can address these issues and challenges in the curriculum. Vital Voices relies on the local partners expert input to ensure the case scenarios and curriculum in general reflect local realities and address commonly held beliefs and attitudes that legitimize or perpetuate gender-based violence.
All logistical arrangements are made by Vital Voices during the planning phase. These arrangements include selecting and securing a venue, obtaining translation and interpretation services, organizing events for the participants, and printing materials.
The media event strategy and key messaging is developed by Avon Foundation for Women and serves to highlight the issue of violence against women and inform the public about available services and laws. The local partner helps to identify and invite local celebrities who are womens right activists to participate as featured speakers.
Program Phase (April 2017 December 2018): After arrival in the host country, Vital Voices conducts the Faculty Day, a preparation day with U.S.-based and local faculty members during which Vital Voices explains the Institute model and the adult-learning principles the program is based on, reviews the curriculum, and determines which faculty members will lead each activity and speak to each topic.
On the first day of the Justice Institute, Vital Voices checks-in each participant and provides them with a welcome folder, participant manual, name badge, terms of participation form, and pre-training survey. The signed terms of participation forms and completed surveys are collected. The training is then conducted by the faculty members, with Vital Voices acting as facilitators. On the scheduled day, the media event is carried out by Vital Voices in coordination with Avon and the local partner. On the final day of the Institute, post-training surveys are distributed and collected and certificates are awarded to participants.
Closing Phase: After returning from the Institute, Vital Voices has a debrief meeting and drafts a trip summary. All payment reconciliations are completed and thank you letters and photographs are sent to faculty and participants. The pre- and post-training surveys are inputted into an online survey platform and the responses analyzed. A follow-up survey is sent to participants six months after the program, and the responses are again inputted into the survey platform and analyzed. Conclusions from the analysis are included in the report to Avon Foundation for Women.
This process is repeated for each Justice Institute.
With the recent adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have marked the beginning of a new era of international development. Gender is a central feature of the SDGs Outcome Document; it is highlighted as a standalone outcome and goal (SDG 5) and is integrated throughout the agreement. Never before has addressing gender inequality been so integral to a global development commitment.
In order to advance gender equality targets, Avon is joining a holistic coalition of multi-sectoral partners convened by No Ceilings, Vital Voices, and WEConnect International, focusing on three core issue areas of work: 1) Promoting Womens Economic Participation; 2) Addressing Violence Against Girls and Women; and, 3) Advancing Womens Leadership in both Private and Public sectors.
While country differences in culture, laws, and resources exist, universal challenges have emerged. Among the most daunting is the difficulty in enforcing legislation, statutes, policies, and protocols. Despite the presence of laws that can protect women and prevent impunity, many countries are ineffectively implementing them, and, as a result these laws fail to achieve their promise, often leaving survivors unprotected and perpetrators unaccountable. Violence against women is a problem in every country of the world and has reached epidemic proportions. The World Health Organization issued their Global and Regional Estimates of Violence Against Women, which found that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence. Domestic violence is by far the most common form of violence against women with 30% of women experiencing physical or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Rates of sexual assault continue to be a problem with 7% of women experiencing sexual assault by someone other than a partner.
Through this commitment, Avon will assist communities in using their available laws and policies to hold defendants accountable in a way that prioritizes the safety and dignity of the survivors. Additionally, Avon promote a coordinated community response to violence against women which encourages collaboration among stakeholders and early intervention to prevent violence from reoccurring and increasing.
To address this critical need, in 2014, Avon Products, Inc., Avon Foundation for Women, Vital Voices Global Partnership and the U.S. Department of State launched a new initiative of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women: The Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence. To date, Avon has funded Justice Institutes in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, India, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, and South Africa.