All evaluation in gender equity and prevention of violence against women should be conducted in a way that is ethical. While it is not feasible for all organisations to complete an extensive ethics application process, it is still important to conduct evaluation in a manner that considers whether the people involved (e.g. staff, community members, or participants) will be exposed to any risks, burden, inconvenience or possible breaches of privacy (AES, 2013). When undertaking evaluation in prevention of violence against women there are a number of key ethical and safety considerations.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) evaluation or research on PVAW projects should only be undertaken when ethically and methodologically sound (WHO, 2001). Given the sensitive nature of the topic extra care needs to be taken around safety and ethics. Safety of the respondents, particularly women and girls, is paramount and should take priority in guiding all project and evaluation decisions. If there are significant threats to the safety of participants or fieldworkers/interviewers international consensus is that the research or study should not go ahead (Ellsberg & Potts, 2018). Where possible persons conducting the research or evaluation should receive specialised training and ongoing support to respond to disclosures of family violence (Our Watch, 2017).
An evaluation should consider the implications of differences and inequalities, particularly gender in PVAW. However these inequalities can also relate to age, physical or intellectual disability or socio-economic or ethnic background.
If any of the material in this section brings up questions for you write them down and ask your team leader or manager for support.
There are also specific issues to consider for certain vulnerable groups such as children or marginalised groups. Before your evaluation begins, consider whether your project or initiative involves obtaining informed consent or collecting data from specific community groups. You can click on one of the example groups below for some key points for specific ethical considerations.
Some key resources for understanding ethics in practice are available through:
For further reading see the following web pages: