Understanding Culture
Protecting Human Rights
A. Obaid

UNFPA Executive Director
Gender Equity Human Rights

Sierra Leone

Laying the groundwork

People & Change
Local Context
Hard Data
Cultural Values

Starting off right
Bulding in sustainability
Caring for the individual
Gaining support through advocacy
The Projects

Gather hard data and solicit expert opinion
Often, the logic of hard facts can convince people to think critically about issues that have long been avoided. In Romania, it was not until the results of a 1999 survey were broadcast by the media that domestic violence was acknowledged as a serious problem. Similarly, credible evidence and the opinion of experts can alter the mindset of community members, who may not automatically accept the views of a project worker. In Bangladesh, research findings, proceedings of court cases and media coverage of violence against women were all used to create awareness. The opinions of specialists, such as religious leaders, doctors and lawyers, were also solicited. In Mauritania, a research project initiated by UNFPA gathered, for the first time in that country, data on rape and other forms of sexual violence. The findings shed light on a problem that had previously gone unnoticed and served as justification for subsequent action. It took this basic evidence to convince the community that a problem existed.

It is taboo to talk about sex, let alone sexual violence.

A midwife in Mauritania


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