The URDR researchers are concurrently running a number of research projects. These take place worldwide. Some selected examples of current and recent projects are offered below.

PhotoVOICE 2.0 Research on the drivers of Campus Rape Culture for Stellenbosch University

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Working with women students (and staff collaborators) from Stellenbosch University, this research project carried out over 2020-2021 uses an innovative, adapted form of Photovoice 2.0 to explore understandings of campus rape culture at this university. The research project focuses on the drivers of campus rape culture, as experienced and understood by women students at SU and collected 180 voicenotes and 120 photos in total. This entails looking at dominant constructions of masculinities and femininities, social influences on gender identity formation, and the practices that impact these. There is a focus on the constructions, influences and practices that promote campus rape culture, but also on those that can counter it. URDR outputs that highlight the need for this research include media articles, discussion pieces and journal articles. and a website launched in September 2021 features its key findings in an online exhibition and can be accessed at


Research on religion and gender in donor policies and practice, for the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities

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 The overall objective of the study is to reflect on how selected donors and intergovernmental agencies (IGAs) are engaging (including partnership and providing funding) with local, national and international faith actors on gender-focused issues (including gender justice, gender equality, and gender-based violence). The purpose of the study is to produce research-based evidence to facilitate further conversation between faith actors and donors/IGAs. As this piece of research will shed greater light on donor and IGA stances (both formal and informal) towards faith actors, it is hoped that it will enable greater accountability on the part of donors and IGAs and better understanding, and therefore collaboration, between donors/IGAs and faith actors.

Synthesis Review of Practice-Based Knowledge on Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls, for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women

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This 2020-2022 project included a number of consecutive phases. It developed a conceptual framework for practitioner-based learning for the UN Trust Fund, producing a global synthesis review across over 100 project evaluations. URDR researchers designed a synthesis report including recommended research priorities for ten thematic briefs in participatory collaboration with UN Trust Fund projects and an expert panel on preventing VAW/G globally. In phase 2, we analysed, synthesised and authored two of these ten prevention research briefs on intersectional approaches to prevent VAWG and on the roles of faith-based and traditional actors to prevent VAWG. These were done participatory collaboration with the UN Trust Fund global project network. They involved a series of virtual practitioner focus group discussions, detailed analytical reviews and case study vignettes developed from the UN Trust Fund’s extensive monitoring and evaluation reports. Work to promote and complete this prevention series remains ongoing

Ending Violence Against Children Scoping Study, for Joint Learning Initiative for Faith & Local Communities

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The URDR delivered a multi-faith Scoping Study for the End Child Violence Hub of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. The study assessed the current evidence, identified emerging issues and provided insights for members, policy makers and practitioners for future research in relation to the various roles of faith communities in both perpetrating and ending violence against children. It included consultations with experts, six organisational case studies and a detailed literature review in collaboration with Queen Margaret’s University, Edinburgh. A set of reports and two learning briefs were published in 2019 and were translated into multiple languages as well as delivering a webinar series and and online evidence hub across 2020-2021. Findings from this study have been presented at international and local conferences by the URDR in 2021 and have also been published as a book chapter

Generating Evidence on early childhood interventions for violence prevention for the Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence

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In 2020, the URDR led the analysis and evaluation of practitioner documents from empirical mapping projects in Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Afghanistan to identify, assess and deliver a research report which identified good practice case studies within selected faith based organisations across diverse faiths and regions for the roles of parenting support, early childhood care and spiritual development in preventing violence against children. It worked in collaboration with the Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence to identify and document promising faith models operating in practice and to contribute toward a larger toolkit on this issue.

Research on Trócaire Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 programme adaptations, for the SAFE Technical Assistance Facility, Social Development Direct, and Trócaire Zimbabwe

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Trócaire Zimbabwe has rolled out two violence against women and girls (VAWG) prevention programmes that use SASA! Faith, an initiative in which religious leaders, members and faith communities come together to prevent VAWG and HIV. Implementation of the two programmes was on-going when COVID-19 struck Zimbabwe, forcing programming to respond not only to increasing VAWG, but also COVID-19 prevention and response measures that do not allow in-person engagement. Trócaire Zimbabwe wished to document learning about the adaptations, particularly the shift to remote modalities. They approached the SAFE Zimbabwe Technical Assistance Facility to assist them in this matter, who commissioned the URDR to conduct a case study to capture lessons learnt.


Churches and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ+) Belonging in South Africa, for The Other Foundation and other partners

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This research used a qualitative methodology to engage five Christian church denominations in South Africa to identify changes taking place within some faith spaces for queer inclusion and affirmation. It prioritises the voices and stories of LGBTIQ people of faith as key generators of evidence in the field if exclusion of queer bodies is to be addressed. A 2019 report entitled “From Exclusion to Embrace” has been published as well as media articles on this research and church sermons with dialogues between researchers and queer participants.  

In 2020, a second phase started that included the development and piloting of a two-day human sexuality workshop for inclusive churches, faith spaces and individuals. It brings queer and straight voices together in safe spaces for experiential storytelling. This work is being done in collaboration with local partner Genderworks.

Case studies for European Commission DEVCO

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The URDR is assisting the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) in the development of a selection of case studies for EU staff (at HQ and EU Delegation level) on engaging with religious actors around gender equality and/or gender-based violence. In developing these case studies, the URDR is partnering with House of Sarah (Fiji), ABAAD (Lebanon), Episcopal Relief & Development (Liberia), SAfAIDS (Southern Africa), and Prevention+ (Indonesia).