Mary Ellsberg cited a World Bank review that found that multisectoral response is a key to successful intervention. “Strategies must improve coordination between sector-specific approaches, civil-society initiatives, and government institutions,” she said. “They must also take into account the need for change at all levels of society, from national laws, policies, and institutions to community-level norms and support networks and household and individual attitudes and behaviors.” James Lang from Partners for Prevention listed three key components of any comprehensive strategy: an evidence base, building the capacity of local partners, and communications for social change.
Although the public health approach underscores the importance of collaborating across disciplines (particularly as prevention efforts move upstream), some speakers felt that further effort is needed to include such sectors as education, criminal justice, and international aid. For example, Claudia García-Moreno called for the provision of safe spaces in schools, laws that create equitable societal structure, and public education directed at changing norms. Kiersten Stewart said that an important objective of the International Violence Against Women Act is to coordinate violence prevention, gender equality, and international aid efforts that all seek similar goals. Ms. Stewart also mentioned the need to include the private sector not only as a partner in funding and programming, but also as an investor in the public good. Mary Ellsberg spoke of the evidence basis behind successful programs and said that the more successful programs have integrated efforts, such as home visitations for teaching parental skills. Several speakers commented that violence prevention and gender equality efforts need to be coordinated because addressing gender equality alone will not affect the prevalence of violence.
Another key element in ensuring the success of multisectoral responses will be to build on a foundation of evidence. Claudia García-Moreno suggested that prevention should move from small-scale programs to national and multi-country interventions, but the evidence base concerning such a translation is still weak. She also said that although awareness of the issue is growing, allocation of resources is still lagging for both research and evaluation. Dr. Ellsberg noted that political and social will are essential as well.
Ms. Widyono urged participants to remember that research in this area drives advocacy and policy and that the interventions that work best are ones based in evidence to show it. She also suggested that increasing the evidence base would result in greater buy-in from implementing partners—and that the buy-in would be even greater if the partners are included in the research and data gathering. In such cases, as demonstrated by Partners for Prevention, community partners are able to assist in the designing of interventions. By developing mutually beneficial best practices, researchers, implementers, and advocates all feel equally invested in the efforts.