Professor Rachel Jewkes is the acting Vice-President of the South African Medical Research Council and Director of its Gender and Health Research Unit. She is an Honorary Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health, Secretary of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and the Director of the ‘What works to prevent violence?’ global programme’.
A public health physician, Rachel has spent 20 years undertaking research into gender-based violence and gender inequity and health, mainly in South Africa, but she was the lead technical advisor to the UN Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific and led the research in Papua New Guinea. Her work has mapped the prevalence and context of gender-based violence, particularly developing methods to study rape perpetration in the general population. It has helped to understand its health impact, especially in relation to HIV. She has developed and evaluated interventions to prevent GBV with adolescents and in schools, and has undertaken research to better understand the health and justice sectors’ responses to rape. This work has included providing close assistance to the South Africa National Department of Health developing their post-rape care policy and guidelines, as well as a national curriculum for training health professionals in post-rape care. She leads a DFID-funded global programme of research that seeks to advance knowledge on prevention of violence against women and girls across DFIDs 28 priority countries, and to build capacity for theoretically grounded interventions and rigorous evaluation. She is an author of over 150 peer reviewed journal publications, and more than a 100 book chapters, reviews and technical reports. She is a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Injury and Violence Prevention and Control, WHO Scientific and Technical Advisory Group on HIV and until recently the PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board.
Global Strategies to Reduce Violence Against Women
There are four central tasks in effecting successful global strategies for violence prevention, and underpinning all of these is a need for us to work consistently to reduce fragmentation within the field. These are not essentially new, but we need to change gear and broaden the vision if we are to achieve an ambitious goal of a 50% reduction in violence over 30 years. We need to build our knowledge as a platform for prevention, and recognise the overlaps in drivers of different forms of violence and ensure that learning across areas of violence prevention. We need for inter-disciplinary research that we can build on the strengths and overcome the limitations of each disciplinary perspective. We must build an understanding of how to use evidence to develop stronger interventions, how to use evidence for this, and of the importance of systematically developed, theoretically driven interventions. We need to evaluate interventions and systematically approach intervention development. There are enormous weaknesses in the architecture of violence prevention research and innovation development. We have much to learn here from other fields. We need centres of excellence, coordination of testing and trials so that evaluations are comparable, and development of human resources for this work. A secure funding base is essential. In order to enable uptake and knowledge use, we need first to build an awareness among policy makers, donors and service providers of the poorly understood relationship between primary prevention and responses to violence. We need to build understanding of what does work in primary prevention, as well as what has never been shown to work, and to develop knowledge and build understanding of how to combine interventions to have impact at a population level, and the required institutional delivery mechanisms. This process requires knowledge so we can fluently discuss costs.