Project Abstract Summary
The overarching purpose of the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program is to prevent sexual violence (SV) perpetration and victimization. The Delaware RPE program will advance this goal by using a public health approach to decrease SV risk factors and increase SV protective factors through the implementation and evaluation of prevention strategies based on the best available evidence across multiple levels of the Social Ecological Model (SEM). Empowering and supporting girls and women through education, employment, income supports and providing other opportunities is important for reducing women and girls’ risk for SV. Studies show that gender inequality in education, employment, and income results in increased risk for SV. Poverty and low income status have been directly linked to SV and are conceptually linked to vulnerability for abuse in that they force women and their children into situations that may put them at increased risk for SV, such as walking home alone, living in unstable and unsafe housing, limiting the time and opportunities parents have to supervise their children, or engaging in sex work out of financial necessity. Cross-national evidence indicates that rates of SV are lower in countries where women have higher educational and occupational status. Policies and programs that improve economic security and stability for women and provide women and girls with opportunities to strengthen their education, employment, and income outcomes can reduce the risk for SV victimization.
Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) will work with community partners and stakeholders to implement and evaluate SV prevention programs, practices, and policies. Delaware’s RPE program intends to establish partnerships with financial/lending institutions in Delaware to develop microfinance programs/opportunities for female-headed households. This Economic Opportunities for Women project will develop an adapted train-the-trainer toolkit in order to establish community-based services to provide the curriculum and partner with the developed microfinance opportunities. In addition, Delaware intends to engage key community and state partners and stakeholders in conducting a comprehensive policy scan to systematically gather and analyze state policies related to the economic status of women (comparable worth policies, family leave policies, policies to promote adequate work supports) and to engage in a collaborative assessment of the potential impact of current policies (or absence of policies) on the economic status of Delaware women.
As a result of this program, community and environmental improvements are expected related to providing opportunities to empower and support girls and women, creating protective environments, and promoting social norms that protect against violence. These changes are expected to culminate in increases in protective factors and decreases in risk factors related to SV, ultimately leading to decreasing the rates of SV perpetration and victimization. Delaware further intends to increase the percentage of state SV prevention strategies at the environmental/community-level, increase the number of data indicators identified to track selected risk and protective factors, and to increase the data-to-action review of the state-level evaluation plan by RPE partners.