Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Communication and Education

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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Advocates must craft a message that resonates with the public and with the target audience of the advocacy effort. The message should be general, clear, and appeal to a wide audience. A well-defined message should engage those at the center and around the periphery of the particular topic. For example, a message stating that “women and girls deserve to be free from violence” will engage those working on any of the forms of violence against women and girls or in the context of sex trafficking “girls are not for sale” or “girls should be celebrated not sold.” (See: Girls Educational & Monitoring Services) The message should be based on fact, but should not be overly technical.

Throughout the advocacy process, advocates should ensure that:

  • The message reaches the public;
  • The message reaches the target audience (i.e. policy makers, NGO, government officials);
  • Necessary training and skills are obtained; and
  • Political alliances are formed.

(See:  Women’s Human Rights Step by Step, Women, Law & Development International and Human Rights Watch, 121, 1997)

Advocates should communicate the message using media strategies appropriate for the particular advocacy effort.  A media strategy should be developed early in the overall planning for the advocacy effort.  The media strategy should rely upon public opinion data if possible, analyze past press coverage, and continually review the effectiveness of the message. (See: Women’s Human Rights Step by Step, Women, Law & Development International and Human Rights Watch, 126-127, 1997)

Both traditional and new media can be effective depending upon the audience targeted with the advocacy message.  Traditional media outlets and tactics such as radio, press releases, briefings, letters to the editor and opinion pieces should be utilized.  New and emerging technologies for the dissemination of information such as the internet, social networking sites and blogs should also be used. A balance between these types of communication should be struck depending upon the particular local context. (See: Tips for Effective Media Strategy to Promote Advocacy Activities, Legislative Advocacy Resource Guide:  Promoting Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Global Rights, 17, 2005)


Example:  Like other advocacy activities, communication should be based on research. In the United States, The Opportunity Agenda has undertaken extensive public opinion research to determine how Americans from different backgrounds view human rights issues and messages. Using surveys and focus groups, the organization has developed research-based messages promoting specific human rights issues that are designed to resonate with particular audiences. The research and resulting strategies have been compiled in Talking Human Rights in the United States: A Communications Toolkit. The research conducted by The Opportunity Agenda allows for messages to be broken out based on age, income, and other factors.  This helps advocates determine which messages to bring to a given audience, and makes it more likely that a human rights advocacy topic will resonate with a particular group. The Opportunity Agenda identifies three key questions that should be asked when crafting human rights messages: (1) what is the value at stake, why should the audience care? (2) what is the problem? using statistics and stories to demonstrate, (3) what is the solution? offering a positive way the problem can be addressed, and (4) what can the audience do? Offering specific and concrete ways that the audience can take action.


Example:  The United Nations Secretary General launched the UNiTE Campaign to End Violence Against Women in 2008.  The campaign identified five goals, which are clearly articulated, and have been communicated using a variety of media.  The campaign is utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube to disseminate information; but is also working with governments, civil society, women’s organizations and the private sector to share good practices. (See: United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, 2008)

UNiTE also aspires to raise $100 million by 2015 for the UN Trust Fund, a grant-making mechanism that funds experts, projects and advocates seeking to violence against girls and women.  Since 2009, it has launched regional campaigns in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, which has resulted in the commitment by several countries to enforcing the terms of multilateral agreements, including CEDAW, the Rome Statute, and others.

In May 2012, the first ever Global UNiTE Youth Forum was held.  Hosted by the secretary general, it brought together forty young activists, between the ages of 18 and 30, from around the world to participate in workshops, knowledge-sharing, and relationship building.  The program was held from May 22 through 24, and it culminated in the establishment of a Global UNiTE Youth Network with the aims of attracting young people to the movement.    

February 14, 2013 marked an international day of activism called “One Billion Rising,” a campaign sponsored, in conjunction with UNiTE, by Eve Ensler’s V-day organization.  Groups from all over the world gathered in public spaces in countries as disparate and Afghanistan and Brazil and to express their opposition to violence against women.  Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed a commitment on behalf of her government to end violence against women.