Making Meaning From Data On School-Related, Gender-Based Violence by Examining Discourse and Practice
Insights from a mixed methodology study in Ghana and Mozambique
Efforts to address school-related, gender-based violence (SRGBV) globally are hampered by conceptual and methodological difficulties in capturing meaningful data needed to inform policy and practice. Whilst the emphases of influential studies tend to be on measuring practice of violence, the authors investigate whether they can develop a more meaningful analysis that incorporates attention to both discourse and practice. They do this by examining data collected through a five-year mixed-methods study assessing change in SRGBV in Ghana and Mozambique. The research aimed to understand whether and how SRGBV changed and how an NGO intervention and other contextual features influenced this. The analysis reveals how in the two quite different contexts there were different discursive emphases and in turn practices which were invisible in the SRGBV disclosure data. They identify how both quantitative and qualitative data contribute to understanding changing gender violence in ways that can be illuminating. Data on SRGBV may not reflect practice in simple ways. This key finding cautions against the tendency to simplify and reduce monitoring data into key indicators (such as violence prevalence) that may be misleading in themselves if we place uncritical trust in them. Paying attention to discourse, how it is embedded in context, and the ways it is bound up with practice may help to tell us more about what is changing. It is by understanding the interplay between discourse and practice that we can really understand "what works" to address SRGBV.