Findings from a siblings support program for adolescent girls in conflict

Adolescent girls meeting together.

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Household violence is one of the most prevalent forms of gender-based violence faced by adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. A growing evidence base demonstrates the extent to which multiple forms of familial violence, including intimate partner violence, violence against children, and sibling violence overlap in the same households. However, existing evidence of family support programming that effectively reduces violence against girls by addressing intersecting forms of household violence is limited, particularly in the Global South. Through a qualitative implementation evaluation informed by a grounded theoretical approach, we explored the perceived impact of a gender-transformative, whole-family support intervention aimed at building adolescent girls’ protective assets against violence, among program participants in two communities of internally displaced people in Maiduguri, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria.

We conducted six in-depth interviews and six focus group discussions with adult caregivers; six participatory activities and four paired interviews with adolescent girls and boys; and 12 key informant interviews with program staff. Criterion sampling was used to recruit 21 male caregivers, 21 female caregivers, 23 adolescent boys, and 21 adolescent girls; purposive sampling was used to recruit 12 program staff to participate in qualitative research activities. We audio recorded, translated and transcribed all interviews. In a collaborative coding process, a multistakeholder team used applied thematic analysis in Dedoose to identify emergent themes in the data.

Participants reported a decreased tolerance for and perpetration of violence against girls at the household level and endorsed their right to protection from violence at the community level. However, alongside these self-reported changes in attitude and behavior, aspects of normative, patriarchal norms governing the treatment of adolescent girls were maintained by participants.

This study builds the evidence base for gender transformative, whole-family support programming and its impact on preventing violence against adolescent girls in humanitarian emergencies. Situating our findings in a feminist analysis of violence, this study calls attention to the complexity of gender norms change programming.