Willman, Alys M.

Social Cohesion and Violence Prevention Team
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Violence prevention; gender-based violence; youth violence; illicit economies; urban violence
Social Cohesion and Violence Prevention Team
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Last updated: January 31, 2023
Alys Willman, PhD, is a Social Development Specialist for the Social Cohesion and Violence Prevention Team at the World Bank, taking responsibility for analytical and project work on urban violence, youth violence and gender-based violence. She is the co-author of Violence in the City (World Bank 2011), and Societal Dynamics and Fragility (World Bank 2012), as well as various other books and articles on urban violence, youth violence, and illicit economies. Ms. Willman has worked over a dozen countries throughout Latin America, Africa and East Asia, with NGOs, bilateral agencies and the World Bank.
Citations 128 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
  • Publication
    Societal Dynamics and Fragility : Engaging Societies in Responding to Fragile Situations
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013-01) Marc, Alexandre; Willman, Alys; Aslam, Ghazia
    The objective of the study reported in this book was to understand how societal dynamics can be mobilized toward a convergence across groups in society and thus toward greater social cohesion overall. The team began with an extensive consultation phase to identify some key societal dynamics that seemed important in understanding fragility. The German Development Cooperation (GIZ) was a key partner in the study, providing support to the analytical phase in the form of a background paper, and technical advice throughout the preparation of the report. The team continued to consult with these experts throughout the fieldwork and the writing of the book. This book reports a study about societal relationships in fragile situations. Drawing on relevant literature and fieldwork in five countries, it suggests that fragility, violent conflict, and state failure are functions not only of state inability or unwillingness to perform core tasks, but also of dysfunctional relationships in society that do not permit a state to be formed or sustained. The present chapter has introduced the problem of fragility and suggested that seeing fragility as a problem of relationships in society can lead to more effective interventions in fragile situations. Chapter two turns to a key area of societal relations, the state society relationship in fragile situations. Chapter three begins a conversation about social cohesion in fragile situations. It suggests a critical element of social cohesion: a convergence across groups in society. Chapter four discusses how perceptions of injustice across groups can deepen divisions and hinder coexistence and collective action. Many times such perceptions can be even more influential than measurable differences across groups (such as income inequality) in fomenting resentment and division. Chapter five then takes up the issue of interactions between institutions in fragile situations. It is suggested that social cohesion contributes to more constructive interactions among institutions, increasing their capacity to realize development goals. Chapter six shifts the focus to certain relationships in society that are particularly important for social cohesion. Chapter seven describes an overall approach to policy and programming, including how to conduct research and develop knowledge from this perspective. Chapter eight offers specific orientations for adapting existing tools and instruments to address the societal bases of fragility.
  • Publication
    Bottom-Up State Building
    (World Bank, 2009-10-01) Alda, Erik; Willman, Alys M.
    Haiti is a showcase for the global distribution and pattern of violence that have been changing from the large-scale civil wars that prevailed until the late 1990s to the increasing emergence of common violence, particularly in urban areas.
  • Publication
    Safety First, Then Condoms: Commercial Sex, Risky Behavior, and the Spread of HIV/AIDS in Managua, Nicaragua
    (2008) Willman, Alys
    This study analyzes the commercial sex market in Managua, Nicaragua, to understand risky behavior among sex workers. While health risks are a major concern for sex workers, the risk of violence weighs more heavily in decision making, such that they more often take risks to their health than to their immediate, physical well-being. These concerns are reflected in the lower premiums sex workers charge for unprotected sex (39 percent more for vaginal sex without a condom) compared with risks of violence, such as accompanying a client to an unknown place (a 118 percent premium). Risk behaviors reflect a rational calculation of actual risk: while only 9 percent of the sample knew anyone diagnosed with HIV, nearly 44 percent of sex workers had been assaulted. These observations indicate the need to consider sex workers' physical safety in policies to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Publication
    Gates, Hired Guns and Mistrust - Business Unusual : The Cost of Crime and Violence to Businesses in Papua New Guinea
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-05) Lakhani, Sadaf; Willman, Alys M.
    High levels of crime and violence are widely viewed as a critical constraint to development in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The most casual discussion on the topic inevitably elicits stories of personal experiences of victimization, or those of friends or family. Reports of violent incidents appear in the media on a daily basis. Despite 10 years of strong economic growth, with an increase in GDP of over 8 percent in 2011, there is a perception is that crime and violence have an impact on the business climate in the country, and that the costs to development are significant. This paper is the fourth in a series produced by the World Bank as part of the study "Socioeconomic Costs of Crime and Violence in PNG". The aim of the study has been to conduct targeted data collection and mine existing information sources, creating new analyses, in order to feed an informed dialogue among key stakeholders in PNG, and to help the business community in their ongoing discussions. As such, the study provides an overview of costs according to key themes along with presenting relevant empirical evidence, rather than a detailed accounting.
  • Publication
    Interpersonal Violence Prevention : A Review of the Evidence and Emerging Lessons
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2011) Willman, Alys
    Acknowledges how development is held back by violence, especially high levels of interpersonal violence that includes harmful acts of gangs and domestic violence. Chronic, high rates of such violence deter investment, erode social cohesion, limit access to employment and educational opportunities, drain state resources, and threaten governance at various levels. Violence is an important signal of fragility, because it indicates the breakdown of state capacity to provide basic security, and of societal capacity to impose social controls on violent behavior. Risk factors for increasing violence include high unemployment, a history of conflict, rapid urbanization, high inequality, trafficking in weapons and drugs, and institutional fragility. Violent behavior may offer opportunities for physical, social and economic mobility. Gender-based violence is related to both criminal and political violence. Factors for prevention are linked to community and family connection, early intervention, and local government intervention programs like community policing. Because various types of violence overlap, more integrated approaches present the most effective means for prevention while avoiding duplication of efforts.
  • Publication
    "If They Could Make Us Disappear, They Would!" Youth and Violence in Cite Soleil, Haiti
    (2010) Willman, A.
    This study explores community-level risk and protective factors for youth. violence in Cite Soled, Port-au-Prince's most violent slum. The youth of Cite Soleil have often been mobilized to violence by powerful actors as tools for achieving political or financial gain. Drawing on a formal survey (N = 1,575) and ethnographic data collected between March. 2008 and April 2009, we analyze the factors that contributed-and continue to contribute to making these youth available for such mobilization. Youth frame their experiences at terms of a broader social conflict between the "included" and the "excluded," and view violence as an effective means of obtaining what is denied to them by society: opportunity, respect, and material benefits. The experiences from Haiti offer important lessons in understanding the community level drivers of youth violence, and can contribute to policy approaches that go beyond stabilization, measures toward addressing structural violence. (C) 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
  • Publication
    Risk and Reward in Managua's Commercial Sex Market: The Importance of Workplace
    (2010) Willman, Alys
    This article focuses on the capabilities of women in sex work--a sector in which a substantial number of women in developing countries find themselves. Sex workers confront important unfreedoms-violence and disease--on a daily basis. How well sex workers can manage these threats has implications not only for the workers themselves but also their families and communities, and thus is an important concern in development policy. Using original data from Managua, Nicaragua, I show how workplace conditions determine women's autonomy to manage risks of disease and violence, including their capacity to negotiate appropriate risk compensation. I present a model of a segmented labor market, and describe how women's autonomy in choosing a particular segment is constrained by access to networks and human capital. Next, I estimate the compensation to different risks by market segment. I find that sex workers in higher-end segments are less likely than women in other segments to take risks to their health or safety, and more able to charge a high-risk premium when they do. In addition, women who enjoy more autonomy in decision-making take risks less often than those whose decisions are constrained either by a manager or by low earnings. These findings indicate the need to consider differences in workplace conditions in designing policy to expand the capabilities of women in sex work.
  • Publication
    Trends in crime and violence in Papua New Guinea
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-05) Lakhani, Sadaf; Willman, Alys M.
    Crime and violence are widely viewed as posing a considerable challenge to development in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The full scale of crime and violence in PNG is difficult to assess, given the scarcity of national-level studies and a distinct urban bias in the available studies. Yet various commentators and surveys estimate that violence victimization rates in PNG are among the highest in the world. This briefing note presents some preliminary findings regarding the prevalence of crime and violence in PNG. It was prepared as part of a broader study to understand the socioeconomic costs of crime and violence to businesses, government agencies, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and households in PNG. The different data sources reviewed and the most significant challenges with the data available are noted in Annex 1. The challenges in partial data and questions concerning the methodology used for collecting and collating some of the data sets and data integrity call for some caution in interpreting the findings, in particular making generalizations about the wide diversity of provincial experiences on the basis of geographically limited data sets.
  • Publication
    The Socio-economic Costs of Crime and Violence in Papua New Guinea : Recommendations for Policy and Programs
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-05) Lakhani, Sadaf; Willman, Alys M.
    At the request of the Prime Minister's office, between 2011-2013, the World Bank conducted a study to understand the social and economic costs of crime and violence in Papua New Guinea. The purpose of the study was to feed a national conversation about crime and violence and inform policy directions and program interventions. The findings of the study are summarized in this research and dialogue series. This brief outlines the policy and programming recommendations that emerge from the research. The recommendations are intended to provide information, possible policy approaches towards an ongoing dialogue on the issue of crime and violence and that they will fuel a growing coalition of state and civil society actors for an integrated response.
  • Publication
    Sexual and Gender-Based Violence : What is the World Bank Doing and What Have We Learned, A Strategic Review
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-11) Willman, Alys M.
    Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is the most prevalent form of gender inequality. More than one third of the women in the world have experienced some form of gender based violence. The impacts of such violence extend far beyond the individual survivors, affecting households and communities, and spanning across generations. SGBV is widely recognized as a development constraint that falls within the World Bank's mandate. This report is an effort to take stock of the experience of the World Bank in addressing SGBV, from 2008 to 2013, in order to capture lessons for engaging more strategically on this issue across the Bank portfolio. The report elaborates on the prevalence of SGBV, the methodology adopted for the purpose of this review, an overview of World Bank activities for SGBV, lessons learned, addressing SGBV in design and implementation, cross-cutting and operational lessons, conclusions and recommendations.