Evidence-based activism through civil society-led voices — Interview with Daniele Elizaire from the UN Trust Fund

In the past two years, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) has been rolling out a rich body of work centring the voices and practice-based knowledge of civil society organizations and women’s rights organizations (CSOs/WROs). The process and products of such knowledge have not only informed the field of ending violence against women and girls (EVAW/G), but also redefined knowledge-based advocacy to rally collective support for CSOs/WROs who are leading this important work.

We talked with Daniele Elizaire from the Knowledge Management, Monitoring and Evaluation team at the UN Trust Fund about redefining the EVAW/G knowledge space where activism and advocacy can benefit from practice-based knowledge.

Daniele Elizaire, Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst at the UN Trust Fund

2022 has been an exciting year, with many milestones in elevating practice-based knowledge and seeing the impact of CSOs/WROs. What is the UN Trust Fund hoping to achieve through elevating practice-based knowledge in upcoming projects?

At the UN Trust Fund we subscribe to the Raising Voices definition of practice-based learning — “the cumulative knowledge acquired from designing and implementing ideas and methodologies over a sustained timeframe, including insights gained from observation, direct experiences, and programme monitoring.”

What we hope to achieve is to ensure that UN, national and other programming by EVAW/G partners is informed by practitioner-based knowledge.

This is critical… because we see our grantee partners as the drivers of change in the contexts in which they operate. Now more than ever, in times of protracted crises and complex global challenges, our partners enable us to better understand the realities of women across the world and in turn sharpen our advocacy messages to inform global programming, policies and decision-making while also responding to demand in our grant making.

We are using practice-based knowledge not only to inform other practitioners but also as part of advocacy. Why is it so important to include activism in the EVAW/G knowledge space?

To decolonize this space.

For too long, the voices most impacted and those closest to the realities on the ground have not been at the centre of the knowledge and evidence ecosystem. Even with very welcome shifts in the monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning space towards more participatory and inclusive research, we find that there is still more that we can do to honour practitioners’ lived experience, tacit knowledge, oral traditions and so on.

What we’ve found is that so many of our CSO/WRO partners are feminist organizations and that people on their teams are activists. This is not new to them. So, when the space and resources are created to share and document knowledge from their practice, the case stories, the examples and the messages are clear. We just have to listen and amplify!

This year’s theme for the 16 Days of Activism is “Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls”. What does activism look like in your work?

We already had an enormous body of knowledge — monitoring and evaluation reports — from cycle after cycle of grants. Over the past two years we’ve been deeply invested in engaging with this knowledge and working to elevate practice-based knowledge as a complement to the existing body of evidence on what works.

As part of that, we’ve intentionally established a methodology and sampling framework for Learning from Practice on Prevention, as well as the work to put this back out into the EVAW/G ecosystem.

We rolled out a series of 10 briefs as well as a special brief focusing on the impacts of COVID-19 through the lens of CSOs/WROs, and a series of webinars conducted in five languages as well as International Sign Language. We also launched a podcast and host discussions on SHINE — our newest platform for inclusive knowledge exchange that enables users to engage and co-create knowledge in over 50 different languages.

All of this says that our activism tries to create space, centre the voice of the practitioner, invite open dialogue and seek to find innovative ways to share what we continue to learn from their practice.

And we’re still on this learning journey and invite partners to come along with us.

* This is part of a #16Days series of interviews with members of the UN Trust Fund that sheds light on what goes on “behind the scenes” to end violence against women and girls.

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UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women

The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women is the only global grant-making mechanism dedicated to eradicating all forms of #VAWG. https://untf.unwomen.org/