Global Norms and Violence Against Women in Ethiopia


Start date: 1 August, 2019 End date: 31 July, 2024 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 18-10-DIIS Countries: Ethiopia Thematic areas: Gender equality, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark Partner institutions: The Peace and Development Center (PCD), Ethiopia Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Adam Moe Fejerskov Total grant: 8,383,912 DKK

Project summary

This project (GLOW) studies the role of global norms in development. It does so through a case study of the global norm on the elimination of violence against women (VAW) in Ethiopia. The norm was originally phrased in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women (CEDAW) in 1979 and has been reiterated in two targets (5.2 and 5.3) of the SDG 5 on Gender equality and women’s empowerment.

A significant argument in the academic literature is that global norms need to resonate with local norms in order to be accepted in local communities. This implies that global norms cannot induce significant social change. GLOW analyses the extent to which politics and actors may mediate between global and local norms enabling social change towards the global norm. Ethiopia is particularly suited for this study because (i)VAW is a widespread challenge in the country, (ii) the government and religious authorities have strongly condemned VAW making the elimination of VAW a national priority, and (iii) Ethiopia is a significant member of regional organisations like IGAD and AU which often actively engage in norm production and diffusion. GLOW is organised around 4 work packages. The first addresses the role of VAW in national politics in Ethiopia and seeks to explain how it has become a national political priority. The second studies the relationship between development projects and local communities in relation to VAW to understand the conditions enabling social change towards the elimination of VAW. The third focuses on Ethiopia’s efforts to influence global norm production on VAW to understand Ethiopia’s official views on the norm. The fourth involves various activities to strengthen research and policy dissemination capacity.


Midterm report
GLOW is a research programme exploring global norms and violence against women (VAW) in Ethiopia. The international community has invested substantial resources in establishing the Sustainable Development Goals and similar global norms, hoping they will drive forward global development. Yet we know little about their use, relevance and influence in development at national and local levels.

Through qualitative field studies in Ethiopia and internationally, GLOW produces new knowledge on how actors and politics mediate the relationship between dissimilar global and local norms in a way that enables social change towards the elimination of VAW.

In its first years, GLOW has engaged a wide range of partners, produced research at international levels of excellence, and disseminated widely on its important topics of norms and violence against women. Work has been presented at conferences across the Global South and Europe and disseminated across national and international media, including the BBC.

Key stakeholders have been directly engaged on the issues of the programme, including the World Bank, the UN (including UN Women and UNODC, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOCHA), the AU, Ethiopian ministries and the Ethiopian government, embassies, as well as Danish organisations, ministries and politicians. GLOW researchers have provided their expertise input to as different stakeholders as the Electoral Board of Ethiopia to the CSW in the UN Headquarters in New York.


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