Background: Gender based violence (GBV) remains one of the most serious threats to the health and safety of women and girls worldwide. The problem is even more pronounced in refugee populations where women and girls are at increased risk of violence. In 2015, UNHCR reported the highest number of forcibly displaced people in recorded history. Despite growing need, there have been few rigorous evaluations of interventions aimed at primary GBV prevention and no systematic reviews of GBV prevention efforts specifically focused on refugee populations; reviews to date have primarily examined prevention of conflict related sexual violence, with very limited focus on other forms of GBV such as intimate partner violence
Methods: This study reviewed the scientific literature addressing strategies for primary prevention of GBV and their effectiveness among refugee populations over the past ten years (2006 to 2015). Narrative content analysis methods were used to extract findings related to prevention activities/programs recommended by the global humanitarian community, such as sociocultural norms change, rebuilding family and community support structures, improving accountability systems, designing effective services and facilities, working with formal and traditional legal systems, monitoring and documenting GBV, and/or engaging men and boys in GBV prevention and response.
Results: Study findings indicate that a range of GBV prevention activities recommended by the global humanitarian community are currently being applied in a variety of settings. However, there remains a limited body of evidence on the effectiveness of GBV prevention programs, interventions, and strategies, especially among refugee populations.
Conclusion: Commonly agreed upon standards or guidelines for evaluation of GBV prevention programming, and publication of evaluations conducted using these guidelines, could assist humanitarian stakeholders to build and disseminate an evidence base of effective GBV prevention interventions, programs and strategies. Evaluation of GBV prevention efforts, especially among refugee populations, must be given higher priority to justify continuation or revision of recommended GBV activities/programs being implemented in diverse humanitarian settings.