Addressing gender-based violence prevention and treatment in a training curriculum to improve the quality of health instruction in Nicaragua

Ivonne Gómez Pasquier

Chief of Party, Nicaragua, USAID ASSIST/URC

Danilo Núñez Aguirre

Quality Improvement Advisor, Nicaragua, USAID ASSIST/URC

Through the USAID ASSIST Project, our team in Nicaragua is supporting the institutionalization of improvement methods and pre-service training in HIV services in medical and nursing schools at eight universities to develop the skills of nursing and medical professors to apply a teaching package for quality care. HIV prevalence in Nicaragua is relatively low at .24%, but at-risk populations, including men who have sex with men and other LGBT individuals, and female commercial sex workers  face a substantially higher risk. Stigma and discrimination against these groups can lead to an increase in gender-based violence (GBV), which disproportionately affects women: 48% of women married or in a union are affected by gender-based violence, and also LGBT individuals.

Professors participating in the gender training at POLISAL University in Nicaragua

Domestic and sexual violence are human rights and public health issues in Nicaragua that lead to poor health outcomes and limits women, men, girls, and boys from reaching their full potential. It can become a cycle in which victims can become perpetrators of violence, causing a permanent social condition with serious psychosocial and public health impacts, since violence and especially sexual violence is linked to the spread of STIs and HIV, and it increases the burden and costs in health institutions.

Through the USAID ASSIST Project, we are working to develop the skills of university professors on issues which include GBV and trafficking in persons, including prevention, care and rehabilitation for survivors of GBV and trafficking, and to integrates educational methodologies that allow for the transmission of this knowledge to medical and nursing students.  In collaboration with the USAID PrevenSida Project, we recently finalized a training module on gender, gender-based violence and human trafficking to build the capacity of university professors to train medical and nursing students to understand and identify GBV and work to break the cycle of violence. The module has a methodological design, which includes indicators, a learning assessment and support materials for teaching such as technical notes and visual aids.

The GBV module’s three learning objectives are:

  • Understand the basic conceptual gender framework, reflect collectively from their experiences on the intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions of gender and their relationship to development.
  • Become well-versed in the basic aspects of the national legislation and its relationship with the international framework and institutional policies of USAID on gender and identify the main activities and challenges for gender mainstreaming that they take
  • That professors commit to implementing actions for addressing these important issues in universities and influence the various examples of inequaliteis they encounter

The training methodologies we use are dynaic, participatory and highly reflective, based on the principles of adult education and they respond to the specific needs and gaps of our participants, so that the intended learning objectives are achieved. To develop this module, we alligned our training with our approach to integrate gender through the USAID ASSIST Project, USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy and the Counter Trafficking in Person’s Field Guide by USAID, which are alligned with our national laws in Nicaragua, which recognize "equal rights and opportunities" and designates a "comprehensive law against violence towards women. We have trained professors at two universities in Nicaragua on the new curriculum and the feedback from the trainings has been very positive; professors commented that they have received many trainings on gender but none that explained how to apply gender principles to their work like the training we provided. We look forward to working with six remaining universities we are supporting in Nicaragua to train them on the curricum this year.

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Este tipo de capacitaciones son más que oportunas y relevantes para que los docentes integren estos contenidos en sus asignaturas. Como docente en el campo de la enfermería siempre hay oportunidades diversas para abordar sobre esta tematica con nuestros estudiantes. Lo que sin duda alguna incidira en los cuidados que posteriormente den a la población y sobre todo lo relacionado al HIV. Gracias por el apoyo brindado por USAID en las capacitaciones con personal tan dedicado y preparados en estos temas.
This kind of training is more than timely and relevant to enable faculty to incorporate this kind of content into their teaching. As a nursing professor, I have always found there to be ample opportunities to address this kind of topic with our students. I believe without doubt that such orientation will impact the care that these students provide to the population, especially HIV services. I really want to thank USAID for the support provided to us through this training, led by such dedicated and knowledgeable trainers.

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