Zindagii Shoista: Living with dignity – Evaluation

Zindagii Shoista: Living with dignity – Evaluation

The Zindagii Shoista (Living with Dignity) project in Tajikistan aimed to reduce violence against women and girls. In response to the intervention, significant positive changes were found in all indicators of violence, relationship dynamics, mental health and socio-economic status.

The project was implemented by International Alert, Cesvi and three local partners – ATO, Farodis and Zanoni Sharq – in four villages in Tajikistan with 80 families. It aimed to reduce violence against women and girls (VAWG) through a combination of gender norm, behavioural change and income-generating activities (IGA) over a period of 15 months.

Following a formative research phase, the intervention combined gendered relationship-strengthening activities, adapted from the Stepping Stones and Creating Futures interventions to the Tajik context, and a new curriculum to teach income-generating skills.

A statistically significant reduction was found in all forms of physical or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) reported by men (perpetration) and women (experience). Overall, the number of women reporting emotional, physical or sexual IPV over the past 12 months halved – although it still remained at 33.1%. Severe emotional, sexual or physical IPV was reported by 64.5% of women at baseline. This fell to 12.2% of women at end-line.

Post-intervention, the proportion of women earning money increased approximately four-fold to 78.9%. Food and financial insecurity dropped, with the percentage of people reporting borrowing food or money in the past month reducing by 60% for women and 18% for men respectively.

By end-line evaluation, women and men showed a significant change for the better in all health measures, for example, the depression score at end-line had roughly halved (to 15.1 for women and 6.0 for men).

All measures for relationships in the family improved for women, including gender attitudes, perceived social norms on gender, women’s relationship with their husband and mother-in-law, women’s involvement in decision-making, and quarrelling.

The same changes were reported by men, except for their alcohol use and perception of women’s involvement in decision-making, where changes were not significant.

The findings are, to our knowledge, unique for both Tajikistan and the Central Asia region. This is the first study in this region in which research has examined how combining social norm change and economic empowerment can influence the complex dynamics that lead to various forms of domestic violence and IPV against women and girls.

The findings are highly promising for both reducing VAWG and improving mental health and economic security.