Scaling an Evidence-based Rape Prevention Program for Adolescent Boys and Girls
The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner or non-partner in their lifetime. In the environments in which No Means No Worldwide (NMNW) operates -- extreme risk areas in East Africa -- it is estimated that 1 in 4 girls are raped every year. While there is increasing attention being paid to the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) globally, the majority of preventative efforts, such as awareness campaigns, educational sessions, or advocacy initiatives, do not successfully measure their impact on the incidence of rape and have unclear results.
NMNW has developed a rape prevention program called IMpower that trains adolescent girls and boys on how to prevent sexual assault. Five studies conducted by researchers from Stanford and Johns Hopkins University have shown that the IMpower program can cut the incidence of rape in half. The program has demonstrated benefits on other indicators, such as preventing pregnancy-related school dropouts (by 46%) and improving boys’ attitudes and behaviors toward women; for example, following participation in IMpower, 74% of male participants who witnessed a girl being physically or sexually assaulted successfully intervened to stop it. NMNW continues to collect impact data and is having a measurable effect in an area where few proven solutions exist.
The IMpower programs for girls and boys are low-cost and NMNW is scaling them by deploying a train-the-trainer model, whereby implementing partners are trained to deliver and resource the programs on an ongoing basis. IMpower is currently being delivered through partners in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, and South Africa. NMNW has received numerous requests from potential partners in other countries and is building the operational capacity to be able to meet this growing demand.
NMNW focuses on program replication and operating as a center of excellence that conducts research, advocacy, and training through partnerships to dramatically scale. NMNW hopes to generate further evidence that investing in effective rape prevention programs can provide significant cost savings and improved outcomes in the effort to reduce GBV worldwide -- and that ongoing program delivery by implementing partners could be financed by the cost savings of public resources being allocated to prevention rather than aftercare services. More broadly, NMNW seeks to change the underlying norms that enable the persistence and prevalence of GBV globally.
In 2020, NMNW conceptualized a virtual training option to train new instructors and developed IMsafer, an evidence-informed violence prevention curriculum created specifically for implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic.