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Last edited: January 22, 2019

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Prevention is a general systematic process that involves promoting environments, practices and understandings that reduce the likelihood that violence against women will occur, both to stop it from happening in the first place and to stop it from happening again once it occurs.  This work needs to be undertaken at multiple levels to reach a wide audience, particularly through: education and schools; training for professionals working within institutions (public, private and social); public campaigns about the extent, nature and wrongness of violence against women; addressing contexts that are conducive to violence against women, such as the hyper-sexualization of women and girls in the media; and working to change social norms, especially with adolescents and men in communities.

Globally, there has been a historical tendency to overlook primary prevention efforts, like education and school-based programs, in favour of responding to violence against women after it has happened, and to then concentrate on criminal justice interventions and providing direct support services for victims/survivors.  In addition, primary prevention tends to be neglected in the coordinated response models that focus primarily on improving and coordinating service provision.

Primary prevention efforts can be critical to the broader success of coordinated responses in reducing violence against women.  To be effective and sustainable, primary prevention strategies should:

?      Target different groups of people in the environments where they live and work, and engage with particular, strategic groups such as adolescents and men, as well as key community, traditional, cultural and faith-based leaders;

?      Be reinforced across a range of settings (such as schools, workplaces and the media);

?      Put in place the necessary infrastructure and institutions to address violence holistically using the ecological model to achieve changes in individual, interpersonal, community and wider societal behaviours and practices;

?      Change the discriminatory attitudes, norms and practices that perpetuate violence against women through multi-faceted educational and social mobilization approaches and targeted campaigns; and

?      Target specific problems that are co-related with violence, such as alcohol and drug abuse, and the experience of violence in the home by children (which is an entry point for perpetration and victimization later in life).

See the Prevention section for additional guidance.