OverviewDo’s and don’ts
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Lessons on key messages

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Making it clear that VAW cannot be tolerated: An essential element in VAW prevention is to eliminate misconceptions about violence against women and girls. All elements of society, including public decision-makers, and key influential figures need to understand that VAW is a violation of human rights, regardless of when and where it occurs, and that not only should there be zero tolerance for it, but that swift and effective action must be taken to end it.

Example: A pioneer VAW campaign, Zero Tolerance in Scotland (1992-present), has successfully used provocative images on posters and in the media, alerting women and men to the reality of rape, sexual violence, child sexual abuse and domestic violence. It contributed to a shift in attitudes on VAW, turning a previously “private issue” into a public concern (WAVE, 2000).  They have spearheaded campaigns on justice, men, engaging youth and prevention.

Watch a video about Zero Tolerance.

About VAW Prevention Scotland from Zero Tolerance on Vimeo.


See the Zero Tolerance Website for more information.

Promoting gender-equitable norms:  A seminal multi-country study by the World Health Organization (2005) shows that VAW is closely correlated with inequality between men’s and women’s rights; unequal gender roles; and low levels of women’s mobility, autonomy and empowerment. Therefore, campaigns against VAW need to promote gender justice, and models of masculinity and femininity that are based on equality and human rights. Representing women and girls as active agents of change – rather than as potential victims that must be protected – contributes to their empowerment, and acknowledges and values their contribution to society.

Providing information to VAW survivors: Women and girls who have survived VAW need to know that they are entitled to receive support and redress, and how they can claim these rights. Focused public awareness-raising and information campaigns can disseminate such information and encourage survivors to use appropriate services and demand justice. See an overview on prevention and the Public Awareness and Education (implementing laws) Section in the Legislation module.

A growing body of evidence shows that well-designed information campaigns that combine public advertisements (e.g. posters) and community mobilization succeed in prompting increased use of services by VAW survivors.