From The Field: An interview with Ashleigh Howard, Gender and Violence Technical Advisor, CDC Uganda

What is your position at QED?
I am QED’s Gender and Violence Technical Advisor assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) project in Kampala, Uganda. I also support the CDC country offices in the region. I support the CDC’s Division of HIV and Tuberculosis Prevention Branch gender team.

What are some of your responsibilities?
I provide technical assistance to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) countries and to the CDC country offices to conduct surveys on violence-against-children, including data analysis and response. I work with CDC/Atlanta and its country offices in preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV). I am also supporting a project to pilot a WHO and CDC-developed technical package of seven strategies to end violence against children called INSPIRE. The INSPIRE strategies are implementation and enforcement of laws; norms and values; safe environments; parent and caregiver support; income and economic strengthening; response and support services; and education and life skills. I also support overall GBV programming in Uganda for QED, including support for violence and HIV prevention programming and quality assurance for GBV services in health settings.

What motivates you to do your job at QED and what is it that you enjoy most about your work?
I love my job and strongly believe that the issue of violence against children and women is one of the most damaging and under-resourced health problems facing the world today. Sexual, physical, and emotional violence against children limits a country’s economic and social welfare. Violence begets more violence, including generationally. My contribution to breaking this cycle includes collecting data to help countries to address violence against children through prevention services that target the most vulnerable children and providing victims with improved response services.

What is it that you like the most about QED?
QED is a positive and supportive work environment. I feel valued and appreciated. Colleagues are responsive and helpful.

What’s coming up in 2018?
The INSPIRE pilot project in Uganda will kick off soon; inception meetings are happening now, and some programming will happen in a district with one of the highest levels of sexual violence against girls. We will engage with boys through Futures Without Violence’s mentoring program, Coaching Boys into Men. We will explore how this program can be adapted to be applicable to the Ugandan context and changing gender norms, perceptions about violence against girls and women, and boys’ likelihood of intervening as bystanders when they see violence happening. I have also been supporting projects in Côte d’Ivoire and Lesotho and look forward to training their data collection staff conduct their first-ever national surveys on violence against children.

Tell us more about yourself…
I earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Christopher Newport University and a Master’s in Global Health and Epidemiology from George Mason University. In Malawi, I worked with an NGO in home-based care for people suffering from complications from AIDS. That motivated me to work on PEPFAR and other HIV-related programs. I worked for the Zimbabwe CDC country office in 2011 and have been working on violence against children and gender issues related to HIV since.

What’s your favorite destination in the world?
I love exploring new places. I lived in Zimbabwe and India for two years each. And I have been in Uganda for more than two years. I love Hawaii for its sandy beaches and opportunities to explore wildlife; snorkeling; great food; and—surprise! –no traffic.

What are your favorite activities or interests?
I enjoy hiking, the beach, baking, and coming up with new ideas to engage my energetic toddler.