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Community mobilization, outreach and mass media

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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What do community outreach, mobilization and mass media programmes encompass?

Community outreach and mobilization can encompass a range of interventions and approaches, including: community meetings; training or sensitization sessions with traditional authorities, community or religious leaders; street theatre and other cultural activities and marches and demonstrations.

Mass media campaigns normally use radio, television, billboards or other media to reach a wide segment of a community. It also offers individuals, especially young people, anonymous access to valuable information and resources without having to go through others they may not trust (e.g. doctors, teachers, etc.).

Entertainment-education or ‘edutainment’, is a particularly useful strategy that entails the “process of purposely designing and implementing a media message to both entertain and educate, in order to increase audience members’ knowledge about an educational issue, create favourable attitudes, shift social norms, and change overt behaviour” (Singhal et al., 2004). Edutainment may have a particular appeal to young people and thus may present a special opportunity to affect norms before they are fully set.

Other innovative approaches that can be effective in reaching diverse audiences include: games, electronic technologies (mobile phones and computers), street theatre, art, music and cultural activities.

Together, communication and social marketing campaigns are some of the most popular means for engaging society in primary prevention. Evidence shows that these mediums can produce positive change in the attitudes and behaviours associated with men’s perpetration of violence against women (Donovan and Vlais 2005).

Though community outreach strategies and mass media campaigns are two distinct strategies, the most effective examples of such approaches tend to combine mass media intervention with community-based action.

Programming Recommendations and Lessons Learned about employing community outreach and mobilization and mass media:

Combine strategies via integrated programmes

 Programmes that integrate multiple strategies, usually group education with community outreach and mass media campaigns are more effective in changing gender norms and behaviour.

Promote community ownership and sustained engagement

In order to be effective in changing harmful beliefs and practices, such as violence against women, an initiative should engage directly with members of that community. By strengthening individuals’, groups’ and institutions’ capacity to be agents of change, programmes can work to ensure that activism will be sustained long after a specific project ends.

How can community ownership be promoted?

Instil hope and excitement regarding alternatives to violence;

Personalize the process by reflecting that each person can be a part of the solution;

Engage community members to take up the issue and become activists themselves;

Frame violence against women as the community’s responsibility, not as individual women’s problems; and

Include men as part and parcel of community mobilization (Michau 2007).

Example: A Comprehensive Community Involvement Approach: Raising Voices ( Uganda )

In Kampala, Uganda, the Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention was committed to working in Kawempe Division over a period of four years. The centre involved community members, staff from institutions such as the police and health centers, and other key stakeholders in analyzing the situation regarding domestic violence. ‘Ordinary’ community members (85 in fairly equal numbers of women and men) became community volunteers, counsellors, and activists. They involved their friends, colleagues, neighbours and relatives with help and support from the organization. Opinion leaders such as parish chiefs, traditional ‘aunties’, and village-level local government officials were engaged as allies, who went about inspiring others and shifting their own practices. So for instance, local government officials recently passed the first domestic violence prevention by law inUganda that covers all of Kawempe Division. Officials from institutions such as the police, religious establishments, and health care facilities were identified and encouraged to engage in a process of reassessing their existing policy and practice, and were guided toward instituting more pro-woman attitudes and practices. Gradually, as a result of these activities, a new value system is taking root in Kawempe Division. Domestic violence is now seen as a problem in the community, there are local support mechanisms that help women, people are more willing to confront men who use violence, and institutions are more responsive to violence. Domestic violence still happens in Kawempe Division, but there has been a shift in the level of social acceptance of that violence.

To learn more about the initiative and the process of passing the Domestic Violence Bylaw, see the Raising Voices Study.

Source: Michau. 2007. “Approaching Old Problems in New Ways”, Gender and Development 15(1):95-109.

Use a human rights approach, but frame it strategically

Violence against women and women’s rights may be controversial and sensitive subjects in many communities. Therefore, it is important to frame the issues strategically by:

Highlighting the benefits of human rights and non-violent relationships for both women and men; and

Addressing violence in the context of healthy relationships and healthy families, rather than taking an individual, rights-based approach (Michau 2007).

Example: Jijenge! Women’s Health Centre for Sexual Health (Tanzania)

In the experience of Jijenge! Women’s Health Centre for Sexual Health in Tanzania, some communities that were unfamiliar with the language of rights found it quite threatening.  The result was that women shied away from identifying with statements to avoid being labelled ‘troublemakers’ and men became defensive, accusing the initiative of encouraging rebellion among women.

To address this issue in future programming, staff decided that the idea of women’s rights and health made little difference to women whose daily lives were limited by the threat of violence and reoriented the programme to focus on personal safety and control over the integrity of one’s body before turning attention to other human rights.

See the article on Jijenge!

Source: Michau. 2007. “Approaching Old Problems in New Ways”, Gender and Development 15(1):95-109.

Make use of existing theories to understand how individuals change

 Effective programmes are based on scientific theories of how problem behaviour develops and how it can be changed. (WHO Primary Prevention) Some of the theories employed in initiatives aimed at changing gender norms include:

  • Stages of Change model developed by Prochaska, DiClemente and Norcross (1992) proposes that individuals change in fairly predictable ways following four stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation for action, action and maintenance.
  • Theory of Reasoned Action developed by Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen proposes that an individual’s perception regarding the expectations of those who are closest to them greatly influence their behavioural intention.
  • Diffusion of Innovation Theory by Everett Rogers proposes that opinion leaders – trusted trendsetters – through their actions, attitudes and views influence those of other members via social relationships.
  • Paulo Freire’s theories of communication for social change emphasize:  
    • The importance of working with people through a problem-posing approach;
    • The need to value local knowledge and respect local culture;
    • The need to learn continuously from those with whom one works; and
    • The relevance of continuously revising strategies and assumptions (Mato 2002).

Employ a social norms approach

 A social norms approach uses communication techniques, such as social marketing, to:

Foster healthier norms regarding gender roles, relationships and violence.

Gather and disseminate data that highlight the gap between men’s perceptions of other men’s agreement with violence and sexist norms, and the reality.

Enable men to recognize the disparity between the actual and perceived norms regarding behaviour and attitudes.

Encourage men to intervene when they identify a situation that may lead to violence.

(For a discussion about how social norms approaches can be used to address violence against women, please see, for instance, Fostering Healthy Norms to Prevent Violence and Abuse: The Social Norms Approach by Alan Berkowitz 2006 available in English.

Promote change at the societal level, beyond the individual

Targeting boys’ and men’s individual behaviour alone will produce limited results.  It is important that interventions target their context by addressing relationships, social institutions, gatekeepers, community leaders, etc.

Examples of initiatives that have employed multiple strategies to target both the individual and his social context:

Sexto Sentido (Nicaragua)

Program H (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, India and other countries)

Coaching Boys into Men (US)

Soul City Series 4 (South Africa)

Employ formative research

More successful initiatives, particularly in mass media, use formative research to:

Identify existing norms

Identify and test messages

Develop characters or storylines

Determine the most effective and relevant channels to reach the target audience (WHO, 2007)

For an example of how this can be done, see the One Man Can Campaign by Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa.

Example of an intervention that employs extensive formative research: Soul City (South Africa)

Two elements are at the heart of Soul City’s work, centred on TV soap operas to influence social transformation: formative research and partnerships.

Formative research is carried out with both audiences and experts to develop and field-test materials to ensure their effectiveness.  The formative research process involves the following steps:

1) Consulting widely with experts and key stakeholders on the issues.

2) Consulting audience members about what they know, their concerns, their attitudes on the issue and the barriers that exist to positive change.

3) Presentation of the findings from the first two steps to the TV and radio actors and experts.

4) Development of a message brief or ‘blueprint’ for the creative team who will develop the TV and radio dramas.

5) Integration of issues into the entertainment vehicle by the creative team.

6) Production and testing (with experts, role players and audience members) of a draft outline.

7) Writing and testing of scripts.

8) Production, broadcast and distribution of the material.

9) Evaluation of material and integration of lessons learned into future productions.

Engage the target audience in programme development

  •  Develop persuasive messages by understanding the behaviour of the intended audience.
  • Actively involve them in the planning, design and implementation and monitoring of the programme, rather than just disseminating information to them (Harvey et al., 2007).

Allow for sufficient preparation time

 Build in time into the initiative to:

Allow for the selection of appropriate technical partners.

Implement polling and focus groups.

Select types of media.

Test potential messengers and messages (Rosewater 2003).

Apply the information collected during the preparatory phase

The information collected in the initial phases of the programme will contribute to the knowledge base on men and boys and violence, including their perceptions of violence and of healthy relationships, their aspirations, gender equality and other life matters (Rosewater 2003).

Use positive, affirmative messages and images of men

Programmes that use positive images and messages showing that men can change seem to produce more effective or promising results (WHO, 2007).  Strategies can include images and messages that:

Show what men and boys can do to change;

Affirm that they can change;

Show men changing in positive ways; and

Demonstrate to men and boys what they can gain from changing gender-related behaviour.

Examples of using positive images include the Men Can Stop Rape campaign slogan “Our Strength is Not for Hurting”. See the posters.

Identify and engage positive role models

Employing (in campaigns and community outreach initiatives) individuals or groups (coaches, fathers, religious leaders) who can influence the behaviour of other men by modelling gender-equitable attitudes and behaviours has shown to be an effective strategy to promote change.

Lessons learned: Be careful when selecting role models

 It is important to recognize that selecting role models and spokespersons can be a complex issue. For example, celebrities may offer star appeal and credibility to deliver a message.  But on the other hand, youth and men may relate more closely to role models with whom they can identify, such as parents, teachers, and friends (Crooks et al., 2007).  In any case, it is essential that a celebrity’s behaviour be consistent and coherent with the message being conveyed.  Therefore, care must be taken when selecting role models.

Additionally, it is important to recognize that there may be tensions between the intended message and sexist and violence-supportive cultures.  This is often the case with sports from which role models are often drawn.

Speak to men’s and women’s own experience and concerns

Campaigns should identify appropriate entry points to convey their message.  An example is a campaign by the Non-Violence Alliance which appealed to men’s love for their children with the message: “You love your daughter.  You want to give her the world.  Start by being a father who treats her mother with respect.”

For more information, seethe website.

See also the Campaign posters.

Highlight the shared benefits to men and women

Appeal to men by:

helping them understand that traits traditionally considered ‘masculine’ (such as being unemotional, competitive, uncaring, and rule-breaking) may also have a negative effect on their lives (de Keijzer 2004);

enabling men to see the costs of traditional forms of masculinities, for themselves and for the women and children they care about; and

helping men and boys understand how they may benefit from sharing power with girls and women, such as by having more intimate relationships with their partners (Esplen, 2006).

Lesson learned about helping men see the shared benefits of more gender equitable relations

It is important for programmes to understand that it may be difficult for men to adopt more gender equitable norms.  Even if men are interested in changing, the social pressure to conform to dominant forms of masculinity is considerable and the costs of not conforming may be severe.

What is one type of exercise that can be used to highlight the shared benefits of more gender equitable relations?

 A ‘fishbowl’ exercise is when one group (in this case either men or women) sits in a circle facing each other and talking to each other about a particular experience.  Those in the inner circle can be given questions to discuss, such as what effects sexism has had on them.  The other group forms an outside circle and listens attentively to the inner circle’s conversation.  The group in the outer circle is then given some time to react to what was said in the inner group.

Consider whether the campaign will focus on men and boys in general or on specific groups

 Both types of campaigns – those that target specific groups of men and boys (such as fathers) and those that target men and boys broadly – have shown evidence of change in attitudes and behaviours (WHO 2007).  The choice of target audience will hinge on various factors, including the specific aim of the campaign, the funds available and other factors.

What are some of the principles of effective campaigns?

 Effective campaigns are:

Grounded in evidence of the problem, including the risk and protective factors;

Define clear and measurable objectives;

Identify indicators and data collection methods to measure the effectiveness of the campaign;

Ensure that baseline measurements are taken;

Select the intended audience;

Use consumer research with the intended audience to develop messages and identify the best sources, channels and materials to reach them;

Build in evaluation mechanisms from the start; and

Continuously use research to monitor, evaluate and improve the campaign (Harvey et al., 2007).

What are some tips for developing campaigns?

 The UNFPA/PROMUNDO manual, Young Men and HIV Prevention: a Tool Kit for Action, suggests the following steps in developing campaigns:

Carry out a needs assessment – including gathering information on knowledge, attitude and practices around the target issue and mapping social networks and media access;

Develop a profile of the ‘typical’ character for the target audience, including socio-demographic characteristics, hobbies, attitudes and behaviours, access to services and programmes, etc.  This exercise will help develop messages and strategies that are relevant to the target audience;

Determine the sub-issues of the campaign, based on the findings of the needs assessment;

Develop basic messages for each topic of the campaign;

Map the target audience’s sources of information and influence (the manual also provides a specific tool for this purpose);

Determine which type of media and social channel may be more strategic based on the mapping exercise above;

Pre-test messages and campaigns with the target audience and with secondary audiences – pre-testing can be carried out via interviews or focus groups.

More information on the above steps, as well as the tool which can assist in mapping the target audience’s sources of information and social networks, can be found in the tools section of Young Men and HIV Prevention: a Tool Kit for Action (Promundo and UNFPA) under “Creating Campaigns: Step by Step”. Available (page 23) in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

What are elements of good practice for designing and delivering violence against women public communication/social marketing campaigns?

In a recent review of the characteristics of effective social marketing campaigns, Donovan and Vlais (2005) identify the following elements of good practice:

Beware of unintended negative consequences, such as messages that encourage women to feel empowered to end violence on their own. While utilizing the mass media and other dissemination channels to ensure that abused women are informed about where to go for support is essential, messages that urge women survivors to take action could reinforce the idea that they are somehow responsible for the violence.  Messaging should also be carefully crafted so that men do not become defensive and escalate their controlling and violent behaviours.

Mass media advertising and media advocacy strategies should be integrated and mutually reinforce on-the-ground activities assisted by multi-stakeholder networks and partnerships, and where applicable, by policy/legislative changes.

Include media advocacy strategies that obtain free media coverage and which influence unhelpful ongoing representations of violence against women.

Find ways to sustain the campaign beyond a single ‘dose’.

Generate public will to support one or more calls to action based on specific behavioural objectives.

Conduct thorough formative research.

Base interventions on comprehensive theoretical models of health promotion and social marketing.

Ensure political support.

Source: Donovan, Robert J., and Rodney Vlais. (2005). VicHealth Review of Communication Components of Social Marketing / Public Education Campaigns Focused on Violence Against Women. Melbourne: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.

Ensure sufficient exposure

Evidence suggests that most effective community and mass media campaigns last four to six months, with some lasting up to one year and seek to present their messages on a weekly or daily basis (WHO 2007).  Some initiatives, such as Raising Voices, argue that a true and comprehensive community mobilization may take years.

Lesson learned about sustaining changes

Follow up is required to sustain changes, which makes this a challenge in settings of unpredictable funding, staff turnover, or high levels of unemployment or residential mobility (Harvey et al., 2007).

Consider integrating bystander interventions

These programmes aim to:

Teach men and women skills to de-escalate risky situations and to provide support for survivors.

Foster a sense of community responsibility for violence prevention.

For additional guidance, see the bystander intervention section.

Ensure the availability of services for survivors and readiness for increased demand

 Primary prevention programmes may increase demand for services by survivors/victims and perpetrators by raising awareness of the issue.  It is important from both an ethical and practical perspective to be prepared to provide survivors with access to information about services and referrals. An effort should be made to identify existing services and possibly partner with existing services to ensure that they are willing and able to respond to increased demand.  Steps that can be taken:

Map out existing services; and

Organize them into a directory and disseminate them amongst staff and the community.

Care should be taken to work collaboratively with organizations providing services (including women’s centres, shelters, hotlines) so that they are able to meet increased demand for services that may result from the dissemination of information.


Developing a Referral Network (International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region). This document outlines recommendations and lessons learned for service availability in resource poor settings and provides guidance on developing a referral directory.  It is available in English.


Build on other successful initiatives and link to other related work

 Social marketing and communication campaigns have been used to address a number of related issues, such as adolescent pregnancy and HIV and AIDS prevention.  New initiatives should review the history and evaluation of earlier programmes to build on lessons learned.  Violence against women can also be integrated into existing and related initiatives by adding a module specific on this topic or by addressing violence within the context of other issues.

Initiatives should explore strategies to integrate violence into campaigns and other activities addressing related development issues, such as HIV and AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, economic empowerment, etc.  Soul City in South Africa and Sexto Sentido in Nicaragua provide powerful examples of addressing multiple issues within a single initiative.

Foster coalitions, grassroots movements and men’s networks

Coalitions and networks can work to:

Increase a ‘critical mass’ behind violence prevention efforts

Mobilize men’s involvement in violence prevention

Improve collaboration on interventions

Reduce unnecessary competition among organizations (Flood, 2008)

Men’s networks against violence against women have been created in several countries, with more emerging in others.

Examples of men’s networks, movements and coalitions

 There are several grassroots men’s groups and networks and it would be impossible to profile all of them.  The groups below illustrate the range of types of initiatives that exist around the world.

White Ribbon Campaign

Begun in Canada in 1991 and now operating in over 60 countries, the White Ribbon Campaign mobilizes men and boys to take a stand against gender-based violence.  By wearing or displaying a white ribbon in public, they pledge never to commit, condone, nor remain silent about violence against women. The campaign is also a call on governments and other institutions controlled by men to seriously address the issue. White Ribbon’s basic philosophy is that while not all men are responsible for committing violence against women, all men and boys must take responsibility to help end it. It is non-partisan and includes men from across the social and political spectrum. The campaign works closely with women’s organizations and urges men to listen to the voices and concerns of women; it conducts public awareness and education activities and involves high-profile men in speaking out against violence; and it provides tools and resources for work in schools and local communities.

To learn more about the White Ribbon Campaign see the website.

MenEngage (various countries around the world)

MenEngage is the largest global alliance of non-governmental organizations involved in an array of research, interventions, and policy initiatives seeking to engage men and boys in effective ways to reduce gender inequalities and promote the health and the well-being of women, men, and children. The alliance includes several major international organizations, as well as local and national groups with extensive experience in engaging men and boys in gender equality and reducing violence, and is in a formal partnership with various United Nations agencies (UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNDP, UNIFEM and WHO).

To learn more about the alliance, see the website.

Men for Justice Program, Regional Network of Men Against Gender-Based Violence, Regional African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)

This is a Pan-African network of men’s groups, initially supported by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, that engage men on the topics of violence against women and HIV and AIDS through discussions and awareness-raising using materials developed in local languages.  In 2003, the programme initiated a Travelling Men’s Conference that, during the 16 days of Activism Campaign, roamed across countries on the continent in a bus decorated with anti-violence against women messages stopping to interact with people on the issues using music, dance, theatre and discussion.

  Asociación de Hombres contra la Violencia contra la Mujer – AMAV (Nicaragua)

The AMAV is an organization whose mission is to contribute to the prevention and reduction of violence based on gender and generational inequalities and the establishment of new ways of relating between men and women based on gender justice and equity, promoting processes of change in the patriarchal visions, attitudes, values and behaviour of men in Nicaragua, through the development of methodological, political and organizational proposals.

Their work has been profiled in the 1999 film “Macho” by Lucinda Broadbent available for purchase in Spanish.

Profeministimiehet - Profeminist Men (Finland)

This profeminist activist group was founded in 1999 in Helsinki with the aim of supporting and acting on feminist issues and raising awareness among men, including through organized demonstrations, postcards and poster campaigns.

To learn more about the campaign and access materials, see the website.

A Call to Men (USA)

A Call to Men is a national men's organization addressing men's violence against women and the eradication of sexism, while maintaining strong coalitions with women's organizations already doing this important work. They partner with colleges, corporations, government agencies, non-profit and grassroots organizations to organize communities in order to raise awareness and get men involved in ending violence against women. Through seminars, workshops and other educational vehicles, the organization challenges men to reconsider their long held beliefs about women.  Their strategy to this end includes encouraging change in the behaviours of men through a re-education and training process that challenges sexism.  Their vision is to shift social norms that define manhood in our culture, and produce a national movement of men committed to ending violence against women.

See an inspirational video by Tony Porter on the "Man Box"


For more information on the organization, see the website.

Men Against Violence and Abuse – MAVA (India)

MAVA is an organization that came into existence in response to a small advertisement by journalist C.Y.Gopinath, in the 'Indian Express' daily and its sister publications, which called for men "who feel that wives are not for battering and they could do something to stop or prevent it". It was out of this advertisement (to which 205 men from all walks of life had responded) that the organization was born in 1991.  MAVA’s primary objective has been to bring about a change in the traditional, male dominated attitudes of men and help stop or prevent violence and abuse of women in Indian society.

For more information, see the website.

Men Stopping Rape – MSR (US)

Since 1983, MSR has provided a forum for men who are interested in ending violence in their community and in their own lives. The organization provides workshops and trainings on sexual assault, dating violence, masculinity, homophobia, and rape culture from the perspective that since men statistically have perpetrated the vast number of acts of violence, they must be involved in its eradication.

For more information, see the website.

Examples of initiatives undertaking community-wide approaches

Center for Domestic Violence Prevention/Raising Voices (Uganda)

The Domestic Violence Prevention Project was established in 2000 as a partnership between Raising Voices, the National Association of Women’s Organizations in Uganda (NAWOU) and ActionAid for the purposes of field testing the approach set forth by ‘Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence: A Resource Guide for Organizations in East and Southern Africa’.  Due to the success of the project, it became an independent entity in 2003 in partnership with Raising Voices and changed its name to Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP).

This community-based initiative is aimed at preventing domestic violence by working closely and over an extended period of time with a cross-section of community members and leaders to change attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate violence against women.  The programme is grounded in a human rights framework.  Not only is it based on the belief of the right of women to live free of violence, but it also focuses on the collective responsibility to uphold and respect this right.

The following five principles guide the Raising Voices initiative and synthesize some of the prerequisites for effective community-based initiatives:

Domestic violence prevention requires the participation of all community members, including women, men, youth and children.

Individual behavioural options are greatly influenced by the attitudes and value system of one’s community and, consequently, initiatives aimed at individual behaviour change should also aim to influence the wider community.

Each community should choose its value system and attitudes and not be directed to changing by outside forces.

Communities need to feel engaged, supported and empowered to make changes.

Behaviour change is a long-term process that requires long-term commitment from organizations and donors who undertake these processes.

For further information, see the raising voices website.

For guidance on awareness-raising initiatives, see Chapter 2 of Mobilising Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence (Raising Voices, Uganda)

Engaging Men in Ending Gender-Based Violence in Liberia (Liberia) by the International Rescue Committee and Men’s Resources International.  See the case study.

Ghamkori (Tajikistan)


Examples of initiatives that have worked with male community leaders, mentors and authority figures

Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women (INDIA) is a network of over 175 individuals and 100 organizations that work to bring about change within themselves and in other men to raise their voice against traditional patriarchal values and challenge stereotypical notions of what it means to be a man.  MASVAW started out by training staff from NGOs and subsequently moved to working directly with men and boys. One of MASVAW’s main strategies is to work with men in positions of authority in universities, schools, the media and in workplaces.   Its current objectives are:

  • To increase the visibility of violence against women and facilitate the process of challenging set attitudes and beliefs around it.
  • To develop a rights-based approach among NGOs to address and mainstream the issue of violence against women and initiate a campaign of men against it.
  • To increase awareness among men about violence against women as a larger social issue.
  • To motivate men to shun violence, protest against violence, support survivors and provide new role-models.

To learn more about the MASVAW initiative, see Documentation of a Campaign to end Violence against Women and Girls and to Promote Gender Equality in India.

Coaching Boys into Men (UnitedStates).  See the website.


Examples of initiatives that have implemented public information and social marketing campaigns

White Ribbon Campaign (Canada and numerous other countries)

After the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal on 6 December 1989, where 14 women were killed by an anti-feminist, a movement appeared in Canada of wearing the white ribbon to signify opposition to violence against women.  Thus the White Ribbon Campaign was born in 1991 when a handful of men in Canada decided they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out about violence against women.  Wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men's opposition to violence against women.  The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is currently one of the largest efforts in the world of men working to end violence against women.  In over fifty-five countries, campaigns are led by both men and women, even though the focus is on educating men and boys. In some countries it is a general public education effort focused on ending violence against women.

See the general Campaign information.

See information about the Campaign in Australia, Brazil and Finland:

See the White Ribbon Organizer’s Kit available in English

See other White Ribbon Campaign Products.

The One Man Can Campaign (Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa)

The One Man Can Campaign, which supports men and boys to take action to end domestic and sexual violence, relied on a range of research methods to determine its content and design.

To decide on the content of the various action sheets, Sonke Gender Justice staff conducted literature reviews to identify similar materials that had been developed elsewhere. Many focus group discussions with survivors of violence, faith based leaders, teachers, coaches and young and adult men were held.

The team also carried out a number of street surveys, stopping men in shopping malls, restaurants, barber shops and bus stations to find out how they understood the problem of men's violence against women and what they would be willing to do about it.

To come up with the look and feel of the campaign, Sonke worked with a youth advisory team and then tested different logos on the streets of Cape Town and Johannesburg with 120 men and women until arriving at a final logo.

Learn more about the campaign.

See the campaign videos.

“My Strength Is Not for Hurting” campaign, (Men Can Stop Rape, US)

In February 2001 Men Can Stop Rape launched the original “My Strength Is Not for Hurting” media campaign, which was intended to prevent rape and other forms of dating violence among youth. The primary target audience was male youth in grades nine to 12 in public high schools in Washington, DC. Secondary target audiences were their female counterparts and school administrators, nurses, teachers, and coaches. The main goals were:

To educate young men about their role as allies with women in preventing dating violence.

To promote positive, nonviolent models of male strength.

To empower youth to take action to end dating violence, promote healthy relationships based on equality and respect, and create safer school communities.

The man message, which is that men can be strong and empowered without overpowering others or resorting to violence in relationships, was communicated to male and female youth through advertisements positioned on buses and in bus shelters, posters placed in high schools, mini-magazines distributed in classrooms, and in-school workshops conducted by MCSR staff. In addition, guidebooks were made available to school personnel. Materials were written in English and Spanish.

While the social context for men’s role in rape prevention campaign materials has traditionally been blame and shame, Men Can Stop Rape offers an affirmative alternative: a social context where men are actively involved and acting responsibly.

Learn more about the campaign.

See the campaign posters.

Violence Against Women – It’s Against All the Rules (Australia)

This Campaign ran from 2000 to 2003 by the Violence against Women Specialist Unit of the New South Wales Attorney General’s Department. The campaign was targeted at men aged 21 to 29 and took the form of posters, booklets, and radio advertisements. It used high profile sportsmen and sporting language to deliver the message that violence against women is unacceptable. Examples Include:

A famous rugby league player says, “Force a woman into touch? That’s sexual assault.”

A well-known cricketer says, “Sledging a woman? That’s abuse.”

A soccer player says, “Mark a woman, watch her every move? That’s stalking.”

And another, “Striking a woman? That’s assault.” (Flood 2002-2003)

See the evaluation.

Zero Tolerance (UK)

Zero Tolerance adopts a primary prevention approach to challenging society’s attitudes and values and the structures that sustain inequality and male violence against women and children. Their aims include:

Raise awareness about the nature and prevalence of all forms of male violence against women and children.

Target campaigns and educational activities at the wider public, rather than just perpetrators or victims of abuse.

Make the links between the different forms of male violence against women and wider equality and human rights agendas.

Challenge the attitudes, values and social institutions that are responsible for perpetuating male violence against women and children.

Represent the interests, views and experiences of all women and children.

One of Zero Tolerance’s main strategies is the Respect Education Initiative which included the development of curricular materials for use in primary and secondary schools and informal youth settings. Teachers, youth workers, health promotion specialists and young people were involved in the design of the packs which aim to empower young people with useful knowledge, skills and understanding and promote positive, non-violent relationships based on equality and respect.

The Respect packs constitute comprehensive teaching resources that can be delivered over eight sessions. It uses a mix of interactive games, puzzles, history and discussion that encourage young people to explore gender stereotypes, discrimination, power and the abuse of power, communication in relationships and how they themselves can become active in making a positive contribution to their community.

See the website for more information and to access the materials.

Turkish Football Federation

In partnership with the Government of Turkey and with support from UNFPA, the Turkish Football Federation involved 18 of its teams in a mass campaign to raise awareness on violence against women that was widely publicized through television, print and radio.

Cuenta tres: tú, ella, tu familia. Saca lo mejor de ti. Detén la violencia/Count to 3: You, She, Your Family. Bring Out What’s Best in You. Stop the Violence Campaign (Venezuela)


In September 2007, the first-ever prevention campaign targeting men and boys produced entirely in Venezuela was launched.  The Campaign was a joint project of women’s NGOs, the State Institute for Women, as well as other agencies of the government, UN agencies (UNIFEM, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP) and Banco Fondo Común (a private bank).  The campaign ran from 21 September (International Day of Peace) to 25 November  (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women). The overarching goal of the campaign was to overcome stereotypes that legitimize violence against women in relationships.

The campaign, Count to Three, differs from previous campaigns that focused on women and encouraged them to report domestic violence. This campaign addresses males, urging them to count to three and to reflect upon their violent behavior, without judging or blaming them. Campaign materials were displayed in print media, in movie theaters, on the radio and television and on public transportation. Monitoring of attitudinal changes was built into the project. Before the campaign began, a survey of 1,200 men, aged 13-55, from all socioeconomic backgrounds was conducted to learn about their perceptions and attitudes towards violence against women. A second survey was conducted after the campaign’s conclusion to gauge its impact.

Additional information available in Spanish.

See the Cuentra Tres Campaign video.


Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (US)

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes promotes the International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence, which started in 2001. By organizing marches of many sizes and in many settings, the programme aims to bring attention to women’s violence issues and to raise funds for rape crisis centres.

For more information, see the website.

Use edutainment

 Entertainment-education or ‘edutainment’ is the “process of purposely designing and implementing a media message to both entertain and educate, in order to increase audience members’ knowledge about an educational issue, create favourable attitudes, shift social norms, and change overt behaviour” (Singhal et al., 2004). Edutainment may have a particular appeal to young people and thus may present a special opportunity to affect norms before they are fully set.

Initiatives that have used edutainment

Soul City (South Africa)

Soul City uses multi-media ‘edutainment’ to inform the public, raise awareness, and change attitudes and behaviours related to key health and development issues.  Series 4, which addressed violence, included:

A 13-episode prime time television drama

A 45-episode radio drama in nine languages

Distribution of three full-color information booklets (with a nationwide distribution of one million copies each)

Community events (including school-based programmes)

See the case study.

Sexto Sentido is a social soap opera implemented by the NGO Puntos de Encuentro in Nicaragua which has as its mission to increase women’s and young people’s ability to take control over their own lives and participate in all levels of society.  Sexto Sentido is part of a multi-media/multi-method strategy called Somos diferentes, somos iguales/ We’re Different, We’re Equal aimed at Nicaraguan youth.

See the case study.

Use creative cultural strategies

Cultural tools of art, music, and drama, including murals, competitions and street theatre, have the power to mobilize communities and to question social norms and power relations which underpin men’s violence against women.

Initiatives that have used creative approaches (street theatre, art, music and cultural activities)


Breakthrough (in India and the US) is an international human rights organization that uses media, education and pop culture to promote values of dignity, equality and justice.  Breakthrough themes include: domestic violence and sexual harassment, women’s rights, sexual and reproductive rights, immigrant rights, racial, ethnic and caste equality and religion and peace.  It promotes four main strategies:

  • Music, art, performance, television for social change;
  • Interactive website which is an educational and entertaining forum with ideas for action;
  • Public forums and workshops; and
  • Multi-media educational materials.

See the public service announcements developed as part of their  Bell Bajao "Ring the Bell" Campaign which has reached more than 127 million people on putting an end to domestic violence.

Boman Irani Makes a Call

Bell Bajao - Can I have some milk?

Bell Bajao - Knock Knock. Who's there?



Add Verb Productions (US) addresses significant social issues by offering creative interventions that engage youth, adults, and local social service agencies to promote prevention, offer support, and initiate action in schools and communities.

Add Verb's touring show, You the Man, addresses unhealthy relationships, sexual assault, and dating abuse.  One of its goals is to engage men in the conversation and activism around violence against women. The play is not an end unto itself, but a means of getting people to talk about the issues. It features six different characters, all men who are in relationships with people who are or have been victimized. For instance, a friend, a father and a professor all struggle with their choices as a young woman's relationship becomes increasingly dangerous.

For further information, see the website.

Men as Partners (EngenderHealth, India and South Africa)

The programme works with men to embrace constructive roles in promoting gender equity, including putting an end to violence against women, and health in their families and communities. As part of a comprehensive effort to engage men and boys, the programme uses local and national public education campaigns, murals, street theater, rallies, and media.

View some of the videos capturing these creative approaches:

Men: Telling It Like It Is, Volume 1

MAP Digital Stories: South Africa

Men Today, Men Tomorrow



Films in India (Rahul Roy an independent filmmaker on issues of masculinity)

In 1998, UNICEF and the South Asia regional offices of Save The Children (UK) supported the production of films on masculinities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The films, to address the experiences and processes related to masculinities, provided a platform to initiate a discourse with young people, especially boys and young men. These films had the goal of sparking conversation on people’s experiences as an entry point into wide-ranging issues covering school, family, relationships, gender conflicts, abuse, violence, and HIV and AIDS. The films, with discussion guidelines, have been used in meetings and workshops throughout the region and beyond, but most particularly in India, where they’ve been screened in all major cities.

View two of his films, Performance and When Four Friends Meet.

African Transformation (Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia)

African Transformation is a tool designed to promote gender equity, participatory development and community action by helping women and men critically examine gender roles. The African Transformation tool kit features nine profiles – in audio, video and written form – of women, men, and couples from Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia who overcame gender barriers and challenges in their lives and by so doing became role models in their communities. Their stories feature the challenges they faced and overcame when dealing with issues ranging from traditional and cultural values to violence between partners. The video profiles are designed to be used along with a facilitator’s guide, but can also be used alone to promote dialogue between men and women. Topics covered include: Social Roles; Traditional and Culture Norms; Women’s and Men’s Reproductive Health; STIs and HIV and AIDS; Violence between Partners; Life Skills; Managing Resources Together; and Benefits of Networking. African Transformation was produced by the Health Communication Partnership 1 in collaboration with the Center for Development Foundation Uganda (CDFU).

African Transformation was evaluated through a post-test only control group design in 2006 among a randomly selected sample of 116 women and 109 men in each arm (intervention and control).  Results of this evaluation indicate that:

participants expressed significantly higher levels of confidence in their ability to take part in community activities to eliminate or reduce harmful traditional practices;

both male and female participants expressed a significantly more equitable view of men’s and women’s roles than non-participants; and

participating in African Transformation led to a significant and positive effect on men’s perceptions of men who assumed non-traditional roles (Underwood et al., 2007).

See more information in English.

See the video profiles in English.

Voice Male (United States) is a quarterly magazine produced by the Men’s Resource Center for Change. The publication chronicles the social transformation of masculinity through voices promoting healthy manhood and those challenging violence. To see the current and past issues, visit the magazine.

Tools for programmes working through community mobilization, outreach and mass media

Preventing Family Violence: Lessons from the Community Engagement Initiative, Family Violence Prevention Fund (US)
This handbook distils lessons learned about organizing at the community level and provides advice culled from the experiences of site leaders and other seasoned organizers. It is intended for anyone who wants to initiate or expand family violence prevention work, including agencies addressing family and community health, community development groups, and grassroots leaders. It includes information on getting started, strategies for effective engagement, advice on funding a project, and information on measuring a project's effectiveness.  Available in English.

The Gender Bender Game (Soroptimist International, Indonesia)
This hands-on exercise encourages community members to identify existing stereotypical male and female roles and responsibilities and to then reassess and re-categorize them on the basis of equity, considering what can be done by women and girls, by men and boys or by both. Both the facilitator and community members participate in the learning process of identifying problems, finding alternatives, solutions and taking action to solve their own problems.  See the game.

Men Can Stop Rape information sheets are available for free in English and Spanish, including:

Rape as a Men’s Issue: Why Should Men Care About Rape?

Supporting Survivors: When Someone Tells you I was Raped…

Alcohol, Masculinity and Rape

Athletes as Men of Strength

Male Survivors: Men Who Have Been Sexually Assaulted

Rape and Racism

Stopping Rape: What men can do

Stopping Rape: What young men can do

Making a Difference: Strategic Communications to End Violence Against Women, UNIFEM

This publication provides step-by-step information on developing a media campaign, including instructions, tips and checklists for a variety of situations, such as how to prepare a press release and ensure that it is used. Useful case studies, focus group methods, pre-testing of materials, and guidance for short and long-term communication strategies are provided. Available in English.

For audiovisual materials that can be used in social marketing campaigns, search the tools section by category audio and visual and topic men and boys.

See also the full module on campaigns.