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Producing the Evidence that Human

Rights Advocacy Works: First Steps

towards Systematized Evaluation at
Human Rights Watch

Ian Gorvin
+ Author Affiliations



Human Rights Watch

Program Office
2-12 Pentonville Road
London N1 9HF

In the community of human rights activists and professionals, we share a conviction that
we make a difference. But attributing positive change to our own work is often
uncertain. At the same time, as our presence in the media and in discussions with
policy-makers grows, and is seen to grow, we face a hostile audience as never before.
There are manyour direct targets and otherswho would like to discredit and dismiss
human rights organizations, or are skeptical of the value of condemning human rights
abuse in the absence of an appetite among influential governments to apply meaningful
leverage. Both the hostility and the skepticism raise the stakes for us to explain our
purpose and our tactics, including in terms of how we assess that we are effective.
Yet even major, established human rights organizations are still getting to grips with
more systematically evaluating whether and how we achieve the outcomes we seek
from our advocacy efforts. How do we locate the reliable evidence that our approaches
to human rights problems actually work? And if we do, how do we make that exercise
truly worthwhile by establishing an organizational culture of evaluating and learning?
This paper aims to present Human Rights Watch's work-in-progress as we think through
and pilot a systematized evaluation process.

Key words


institutional learning


nongovernmental organizations

theory of change

Survey highlights China's gender-based violence

By Zhang Tingting
5 Comment(s)

Print, December 17, 2013

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that half
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men have
physical or
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[photo /

According a survey published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Dec. 16, 2013,
half of interviewed Chinese men have used physical or sexual violence against a female partner
during their lifetime.

The study looked at gender-based violence in the Asia Pacific region, and was carried out jointly by
UNFPA China and the Partners for Prevention program, the UN joint program on gender-based
violence in Asia Pacific, the Institute of Sexuality and Gender Studies of Beijing Forestry University
and Anti-domestic Violence Network/Beijing Fan Bao. It interviewed 1,017 men and 1,103 women
aged 18-49 in a county in central China.
Among the female respondents who were ever-partnered, 39 percent reported experiencing
physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV). About 52 percent of men reported physical
and/or sexual IPV perpetration. Thirty eight percent of ever-partnered women reported experiencing
emotional violence and 43 percent of men reported having committed emotional violence against a
female partner.
The study showed that unequal power relations between men and women are still deeply
embedded in gender norms, which are the root causes of gender-based violence. The research
showed that key elements of socially accepted masculinity of "real men" are toughness, sexual
prowess, control of decision making and use of force in some occasions. Of all the men
interviewed, 73 percent believe that men should be tough, 52 percent would use violence to defend
their honor and 72 percent think that men have decision power over major issues within the family.
"The studies confirm that gender-based violence is preventable and the majority of factors
associated with men's use of violence can be changed," said Mr. Arie Hoekman, UNFPA
Representative to China.
"We need to transform the ways in which boys and men socialize and relate to girls and women.
That is why adolescence is a unique opportunity to foster respectful relationships and endorse
cultural norms supportive of gender equality."

The study recommended that the government, communities and individuals take steps to increase
empowerment for women and girls and eliminate gender discrimination, promote non-violent, caring
ways to be a man, and support women who have been the victims of rape and violence.