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Making every story count: New kNOwVAWdata website and training course on measuring violence against women

Canberra, Australia / Bangkok, Thailand – A landmark training course and an interactive website to build skills in measuring violence against women (VAW) have been launched by the kNOwVAWdata initiative, a partnership between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, the University of Melbourne, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The kNOwVAWdata course consists of four weeks of face-to-face learning for professionals, researchers and academics seeking to build their skills in measuring the prevalence of VAW, an essential indicator in efforts to tackle this challenge, including paving the way for policies to address it.

An initial two-week training phase with 22 participants from 10 countries is taking place in Bangkok from 18-29 June with the second phase in Melbourne from 17-27 September. The course will cover key concepts relevant to VAW measurement, including tools used to generate reliable and comparable data, processes involved in undertaking a national prevalence survey as well as strategies for keeping interviewed women safe and for ensuring an inclusive approach to understanding VAW.

kNOwVAWdata has also launched a new website—the first of its kind in the region. The website includes interactive data visualizations on VAW prevalence at the national level in Asia and the Pacific—visualizations which do not exist at this scale elsewhere. It also serves as a one-stop shop for governments, policymakers, practitioners, academic institutions and civil society organizations to learn about best practices for measuring, analyzing and using national VAW prevalence data.

Training skilled practitioners in data measurement is key to reducing VAW in Asia-Pacific

“A number of countries in the region still lack data on the prevalence of VAW, and many governments do not yet have the ability to measure it accurately and safely,” noted Dr Sharman Stone, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls. “Today’s announcement of the inaugural KNOwVAWdata training course marks a critical step toward providing the skills to fill the gap.  Australia is proud to support this initiative.”

The formation of a professional pool of regional experts who participate in the kNOwVAWdata course will help to strengthen the availability and quality of data and inform more effective policy and programme responses to prevent and end VAW.

“This course will be invaluable for professionals involved in VAW measurement throughout Asia and the Pacific,” said Dr Kristin Diemer, programme lead at the University of Melbourne. “It’s crucial to involve multiple stakeholders in this effort, including representatives from national statistics offices, women’s ministries and other government agencies, as well as practitioners, researchers and international consultants addressing VAW. The more we can sensitize and train a range of players in country after country, the better we can tackle this scourge.”

VAW is an urgent global and regional public health issue

Globally, on average one out of three women experiences some form of violence during her lifetime. In countries across Asia-Pacific, surveys carried out so far have indicated that between 15 per cent and 68 per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetime.  

This reality renders VAW an urgent public health, human rights, economic and public policy priority. Reliable, comparable data on VAW are essential to prevention and response efforts.

“Building technical capacity to collect data is, of course, the primary objective here, but there’s another element as well,” explained Dr Henrica (Henriette) Jansen, UNFPA technical advisor and kNOwVAWdata technical lead. “We find that the women who are trained to conduct these surveys often see their own personal stories mirrored by the narratives of the women they’re interviewing. This can be an incredibly emotional, transformative experience for the interviewer, a catharsis that helps lighten her own burden of having experienced violence in her own life. The lives of interviewers change and they will want to continue working to improve the lives of other women. I’m always amazed and humbled when witnessing this.”

kNOwVAWdata curriculum contributes to achieving the SDGs

The partners have developed a stand-alone curriculum based on internationally recognized national violence against women prevalence survey methodologies—the World Health Organization (WHO) Multi-Country Study and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Domestic Violence Module—enabling global comparison of national survey data.

“Effectively addressing violence against women is key to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr Heather Nancarrow, CEO of ANROWS. “It falls under a number of the SDGs, from the attainment of good health and well-being to the achievement of gender equality, reducing inequalities and strengthening human rights via sound laws and policies and the work of legal and human rights institutions. KNOwVAWdata truly contributes to the overarching vision of the SDGs, a world where no one is left behind.”

The course will be offered annually by the University of Melbourne with a view to incorporate it as part of the graduate studies programme. The partners intend to expand the curriculum developed through this endeavour to additional academic institutions in both Asia and the Pacific and other regions.

“Ultimately, these initiatives will support countries in the region to train researchers and field workers to collect and analyse high-quality data on the extent and nature of VAW,” said Bjorn Andersson, UNFPA Asia Pacific Regional Director. “This in turn will help countries use the data to bring about the policy and behaviour change that are essential in addressing the scourge of violence against women.”

About kNOwVAWdata

kNOwVAWdata is a partnership between UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, DFAT, the University of Melbourne and ANROWS. The initiative aims to develop sustained regional capacity through the development and implementation of a sound training curriculum and to build a committed pool of trained professionals and researchers on the measurement of violence against women in Asia and the Pacific region. | Twitter: @kNOwVAWdata | Facebook: @kNOwVAWdata

About University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne has a clear commitment to population health and equity, which aligns with UNFPA’s mandate to attend to the gender and human rights dimensions of population problems. In addition, the University has demonstrated research expertise and strong commitment to ending violence against women through provision of support to the Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence against women and their children (MAEVe), and a long history of engagement and capacity building in the Asian and Pacific regions.


ANROWS is an independent, not-for-profit research organisation established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia. Its primary role is to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence in policy and practice to achieve a significant and sustained reduction of violence against women and their children.

About DFAT

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade works to make Australia stronger, safer and more prosperous by promoting and protecting our interests internationally and contributing to global stability and economic growth, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region. Gender equality and actions to combat violence against women are key priorities in DFAT’s Australian Aid program.


Ingrid Fitzgerald, Technical Adviser – Gender and Human Rights & Dr Henriette Jansen, Technical Adviser – Violence against Women Research and Data, UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office | | | Tel: +66 2 687 0117

Dr Kristin Diemer & Dr Cathy Vaughan, Programme Leads, University of Melbourne, Australia | | | Tel: +61 3 8344 9425

Michele Robinson, Director, Evidence to Action, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety | | Tel: +61 2 8374 4085