It doesn’t take generations, it takes good programming to stop violence against women and girls from occurring

We don’t need generations to stop violence against women and girls from occurring, but we do need well-designed and comprehensive programmes, a paper released today in the Lancet has argued.

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), the Lancet has produced a special series of papers on approaches to preventing VAWG that can be accessed here.

In one of the papers, ‘Prevention of violence against women and girls: lessons from practice,’ Lori Michau, Jessica Horn, Amy Bank, Mallika Dutt and Cathy Zimmerman, draw on their practical experiences of running prevention programmes, to set out a definitive, six-step guide to prevention programming.

Their Principles for Effective Programming to Prevent VAWG, draw on global evidence and reviews, to show that programmes work, when they:

  1. Work across the ecological model
  2. Use an intersectional gender-power analysis
  3. Take a sustained, multi-sector, and coordinated approach
  4. Take a theory and evidence-informed approach
  5. Encourage personal and collective critical thought
  6. Take an aspirational approach that inspires individual and collective activism.

The authors go on to provide concrete case studies of how, and where, these principles have been applied.

They highlight policy work done via Ecuador’s Regulations for Good Living and Australia’s Right to Respect, to build government-community partnerships and connect sectors (health, police, response services) to drive better policies, and set the right social environment for prevention work.

At the community-level, they draw on New Zealand’s Family Violence: It’s not ok and Raising Voices’ SASA! programme in Uganda, that have used creative communications campaigns, and worked with communities to develop self-organised activist movements to change social norms.

They advocate for more, and better work to change peoples’ inter-personal relationships. They argue that programming work in this area has largely remained stuck on awareness raising, but can move beyond that, by developing programmes that work with both women and men, in gender-specific and mixed groups, to promote non-violent norms around masculinity, and less passive norms around femininity.

And, at the individual-level, the authors advocate for a global approach that understands that people must be inspired. They stress that one of the most important principles for violence prevention is to create aspirational programmes, that is, programmes such as Bell Bajao, and Sonke Gender Justice’s One Man Can that provide concrete examples of the world we are trying to create, and of the benefits, in order to inspire positive activist movements.

If you are looking for further inspiration or guidance, head here to watch a video from the launch of the Preventing VAWG series, listen to a podcast on violence prevention programmes in Uganda, or to access all of the articles.


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