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Engaging key groups

Ending violence against women requires the involvement of everyone at all levels in society. Whether as government employees under formal obligation; as men, who remain the predominant perpetrators and primary decision-makers; as bystanders in a community; as media personnel who deliver messages to the public; as influential community and religious leaders; as concerned young people or as women and girls entitled to lives free of violence – all have a role to play. In particular, especially in the context of preventing and ending violence against women and girls, there are especially strategic groups that should be considered, including:

  • Adolescent girls and boys (ages 10-19) who are more open to new ideas and change, are an especially strategic group to work with, as they are at an age where gender-related values, norms and behaviours can be instilled for life.  Adolescent girls in particular are especially vulnerable to various forms of violence (e.g. sexual assault and rape, including incest, forced sexual initiation and school-related violence; forced or child marriage; female genital mutilation/cutting and trafficking), with multiple consequences (such as, possibilities for unwanted pregnancy, school dropout and HIV infection).  First acts of violence against women tend to be perpetrated by men beginning when they were younger and reports of dating violence are on the rise. Prevention work among this age group can be especially promising. There is a marked dearth of experiences and attention to developing tailored responses to the specific needs, rights and issues of adolescent girl survivors, even though research shows timely, quality intervention can greatly mitigate potentially life-long consequences.

  • Men and boys who have a critical role to end violence against women and girls, especially in challenging and eliminating the attitudes, norms and practices that perpetuate men’s control and power over women and reinforce tolerance for violence against women and girls. Other reasons for working with men and boys include: their roles as the main perpetrators of violence against women and girls; the potential to promote more equitable attitudes about gender roles and norms among adolescent boys; and the importance of male-dominated institutions such as the security, justice and other public institutions in ending impunity for perpetrators of violence. There is an incipient, but growing body of knowledge on promising work with men and boys, particularly in advancing effective prevention strategies. A handful of evaluations demonstrate that men’s and boys’ knowledge and attitudes can be positively transformed within a relatively short-time frame through multi-faceted educational approaches; although behavioral impacts have not been yet been well assessed. Programmes should educate and engage the broader community of men with separate and specific approaches for the non-perpetrating community, including bystanders, the male population at large, those in male-dominated or hyper masculine institutions (e.g. military or sports) and by different age groups and characteristics.
  • Evaluations and evidence to date on perpetrator programmes should be consulted and carefully weighed. There is no conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of batterer interventions, and ethical, safety and cost issues need to be taken into account. All perpetrator intervention programmes should be coordinated with survivor service providers, involve careful and ongoing monitoring, and even greater scrutiny when applied as an alternative to incarceration. Perpetrator programmes can be costly and should not be pursued if they are implemented at the expense of programmes that serve survivors.
  • Faith-based, cultural and traditional leaders who are often trusted members of the community, have a prominent role in shaping community beliefs and have access to different segments of the population, including those who are more marginalized and harder to reach are well placed to mobilize efforts to end violence against women and girls. Popular culture figures (who ascribe to human rights and gender equality and model good behaviour) can also champion the effort with their social influence and ability to reach large audiences quickly through media messages.

Illustrative Resources:

Adolescents

Meeting the Needs of Young Clients: A Guide to Providing Reproductive Health Services to Adolescents- Chapter 7: Counseling Victims of Sexual Violence (Family Health International, 2007).  Available in English and Spanish.

Curriculum on Violence Against Women Prevention (Prevention Connection). Available in English.

Gender and Relationships: a Practical Action Kit for Young People (Commonwealth Secretariat and Healthlink Worldwide, 2001).  The cover and units one, two, three and four are available in English.

Gender or Sex: Who Cares? Skills-Building Resource Pack on Gender and Reproductive Health for Adolescents and Youth Workers (de Bruyn and France/Ipas, 2001). Available in English and Spanish.

Empowering Young Women to Lead Change: A Training Manual (World YWCA, 2006).  Available in English, French and Spanish.

Working with Young Women: Empowerment, Rights and Health (Promundo/Instituto PAPAI/Salud y Gênero/ECOS/ World Education, 2009).  Available in English and Portuguese.

Ideas on Working with Girls (Women Ink/International Women's Tribune Centre, 2007).  Available in English.

Sakhi Saheli: Promoting Gender Equity and Empowering Young Women – A Training Manual (CORO and Horizons/Population Council, 2008).  Available in English.

Pelo fim da exploração sexual O que os homens podem fazer? Manual para sensibilização de adolescentes entre 10 e 14 años [For the End of Sexual Exploitation - What Can Men do? A Manual for Sensitizing Adolescents between 10 and 14 Years of Age] (Promundo, 2008).  Available in Portuguese and Spanish.

Feel! Think! Act! Guide to Interactive Drama for Sexual and Reproductive Health with Young People (International HIV/AIDS Alliance, 2008).  Available in English.

Enabling Adolescents to Build Life Skills Part I: Understanding Concepts, Evolving Strategies, and Part II: Needs Assessment, Conceptual Framework (Mridula, UNFPA).  Available in English.

 

Men and Boys

Engaging Men and Boys in Changing Gender-based Inequity in Health: Evidence from Programme Interventions (Barker, Ricardo and Nascimiento/World Health Organization, 2007).  Available in English.

Evaluating batterer counseling programs: A difficult task showing some effects and implications (Gondolf, 2004).  Available in English.

The Men’s Bibliography (compiled by Michael Flood). Available in English.

Masculinidades y Equidad de Género/Masculinities and Gender Equality. Available in Spanish.

See the Men and Boys module for step-by-step guidance and resources to implement policies and programmes.

See the Tools database results for “men and boys”  

 

Faith-based Leaders

Countering Violence with Dialogue, Guidelines for Training Module: Gender-based Violence as Multi-religious Dialogue (TPO Foundation Sarajevo/Medica Zenica, 2011).  Available in English.

The Role of Religious Communities in Addressing Gender-Based Violence and HIV (Herstad/USAID, 2009). Available in English.

Mobilizing Religious Communities to Respond to Gender-Based Violence and HIV (Herstad/ USAID, 2009). Available in English.

Restoring Dignity: A Toolkit for Religious Communities to End Violence Against Women (World Conference of Religions for Peace, 2009). Available in English.

Lead by Example: Action Sheet for Pastors, Rabbis, Imams, Priests, and other Religious Leaders (One Man Can/Sonke Gender Justice, 2006).  Available in  Afrikaans, English, French, Xhosa, and Zulu.

Creating Partnerships with Faith Communities to End Sexual Violence (Dopke, 2002).  Available in English.

Engaging Religious, Spiritual, and Faith-Based Groups and Organizations (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women and the Violence Against Women Office in the United States).  Available in English.