Strengthening Health System Responses to Gender-based Violence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

A resource package

Tips for preparing the training

Background of the trainer(s)

Trainers should be knowledgeable about GBV and the health system’s response. Having a team of two trainers with mixed backgrounds (one trainer specialized on GBV and/or women-specific services, one trainer with a medical background) will benefit effective delivery of the training curriculum in line with the needs of the target group.

When working with an international trainer, it is helpful to match her/him with a local trainer who is familiar with the specific country and/or regional context.

Ideally, the size of the group should not exceed 25 participants, to allow for an interactive exchange between the trainer and participants and among participants.

Tailoring the training package to local contexts

The training package offers a framework for trainings in the EECA region, at regional and country levels. In preparing the training, trainers should further tailor the package to the specific local context in which the training held. Useful information to be collected includes:

  • The prevalence of GBV in the given country;
  • The overall organization of the country’s health care system;
  • Any policies or protocols in place that apply to the health sector response to GBV;
  • Relevant national legislation, such as definitions of GBV under criminal law or separate statutes on GBV, or reporting obligations of health care professionals;
  • The existence of a referral system, in particular the existence of women specific services, such as shelters or telephone helplines; and
  • Any research studies analysing the health sector’s response in the country.

In undertaking this background research, trainers may wish to consult the following sources:


When preparing for logistics, the trainer and/or the organization organizing the training will need to arrange for the following (adapted from Ganley 1998):

  • Securing a location;
  • Advertising and administering registration for the training;
  • Providing necessary equipment, such as microphones, or a computer, beamer and screen for PowerPoint presentations;
  • Organizing the setting-up of the room (organizing tables in a circle, U-shape or in small groups are preferable over class-room as they allow for more interaction among participants);
  • Organizing translation services, if needed: interpreters with necessary equipment (translation booths, microphones, headsets), translation of written materials; 
  • Providing stationary, such as writing paper, pens and materials for exercises, as needed (e.g. flip charts, paper cards, color pens);
  • Preparing, photocopying and distributing the agenda and handouts;
  • Preparing, distributing and collecting evaluation forms for sessions (refer to training module 10 for a sample evaluation form); and
  • A certificate of attendance (optional).

Time planning

When planning the training, trainers should make sure there is enough time for discussions and interaction with the participants. This is important in order to enable the group to exchange experiences, get to know other participants, etc. Moreover, participants need time to process the material, ask for clarification, or state their misunderstandings so that the trainer or other participants can provide missing information (Ganley 1998).

When assigning time slots to the different modules, trainers are encouraged to take into account the needs and level of the participant group’s knowledge. For example, for health professionals who have not undergone any previous GBV training, the trainer should make sure to devote sufficient time to module 2 on understanding GBV, so as to set a solid ground for the remainder of the training and to provide participants with the background knowledge needed to improve skills and clinical practice. For participants who have previously participated in GBV trainings, trainers could consider shortening module 2 and instead devote more time to other modules, such as identifying GBV (module 6) or risk assessment and safety planning (module 8).  

It is also advisable to factor in a time slot of 30-60 minutes to enable participants to bring up any burning issues and ask remaining questions.

Mix of methodologies

Trainers should apply a mix of different methodologies and make sure to balance lectures with interactive exercises, to enable participants to contribute their views and experiences, to raise questions and to come up with their own ideas and solutions. Examples of interactive methodologies include group discussions in the plenary or small groups, brainstorming, case studies and role plays.

Trainers should keep in mind that some participants may have little to no experience in working with interactive methods. This may result in participants being too shy to respond to questions asked by the trainer to the group, to actively participate in plenary discussions or to engage in a role play. Trainers should therefore, at the outset of the training and throughout the training event, underline that all participants are here to learn from each other and that there is no such thing as a “wrong” answer. Trainers should be alert to such situations and be flexible in addressing them to make participants feel more comfortable. For instance, when doing a role play, trainers could split up participants in smaller groups and ask them to share their experiences with the bigger group.

When planning exercises in small groups, consider the size of the group and time available for deciding on the number of working groups. Keep in mind that having more, but smaller groups allows groups to have a more in-depth exchange, but takes more time for reporting back to the plenary.

It is also a good practice for trainers to ask questions to the group when delivering presentations, to enable participants to ask questions and contribute from their experience. Questions trainers could ask include: “Have you made similar experiences in your organization/country?” “Do you agree to this statement?” or “Who of you has a suggestion on how this challenge could be addressed?”

Points to be considered during the training session

  • Listen for confusion among participants about the definition and root causes of GBV and for attitudes that express harmful myths and blaming of survivors. Address and clarify these issues in the discussion, referring to module 2.
  • Encourage participants to try to improve their everyday work practice in responding to GBV. When confronting resistance, try to make a comparison between GBV and any other health issue that health care providers are used to diagnose, treat and refer to specialist treatment.
  • Remind participants that change is a process that happens over time both for themselves and for their patients. Propose doable steps that practitioners can take this day, this week, this month.
  • Point out successes that groups of individual practitioners have had in changing a system’s policy or procedure through development of protocols and underline that an improved response to survivors of GBV happens at both the individual and the systemic level.