The Lancet series: Violence against women and girls

Charlotte Watts and Cathy Zimmerman of the SaME group, with Claudia Garcia Moreno of WHO, co-edited an important collection of papers with The Lancet. Together with a comment by President Jimmy Carter, the papers cover:

  • the evidence base on prevention
  • the health sector response
  • a social and gender norms approach to prevention
  • programming lessons from experience
  • a call for specific action to eliminate violence against women and girls

List of authors:

Naeemah Abrahams, Avni Amin, Diana Arango, Amy Bank, Padma Bhatte-Deosthali, Manuela Colombini, Manuel Contreras, Mallika Dutt, Mary Ellsberg, Gene Feder, Ana Flavia Lucas d’Oliveira, Michael Flood, Claudia García-Moreno, Floriza Gennari, Kelsey Hegarty, Lori Heise, Jessica Horn, Rachel Jewkes, Nduku Kilonzo, Sveinung Kiplesund, Jane Koziol-MacLain, James Lang, Lori Michau, Oswaldo Montoya, Alison Morris-Gehring, Matthew Morton, Cathy Zimmerman

Link to each paper:

Prevention of violence against women and girls: what does the evidence say?  Mary Ellsberg, George Washington University, Washington, DC

The health system response to violence against women: an overview Claudia Garcia Moreno, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, WHO, Geneva

From work with men and boys to changes of social norms and reduction of inequities in gender relations: a conceptual shift in prevention of violence against women and girls  James Lang, UNDP, Bangkok

Prevention of violence against women and girls: lessons from practice Lori Michau, Raising Voices, Kampala, Uganda

The series calls on policy makers and communities at local, national and global level to commit to five actions:

  1. Show leadership: publically condemn violence against women and girls, allocate the needed resources to prevent and respond to violence, and develop a National Plan of Action
  2. Create equality: ensure national laws and policies prohibit all forms of violence against women and girls and promote equality
  3. Change norms: invest in violence prevention programming to promote the empowerment of women, gender equitable social norms and non-violent behaviours. Also support communities to challenge social norms promoting discrimination and challenge constructs of dominant masculinity and passive femininity that support men’s violence
  4. Challenge sectors: provide training on violence against women and girls for health, security, education and justice professionals, and allocate budgets and create policies to identify and support survivors
  5. Invest in research and programming: implement national population-based surveys that measure the prevalence of violence against women and girls, as well as the risk factors and consequences; and invest in programming and research on violence prevention

Call to Action

Key messages

Violence against women (VAW) is a global problem: According to global prevalence data, physical and/or sexual intimate partner (IPV) violence affects 1 in 3 women and the health impacts of violence are substantial.

Violence is preventable: Research shows that several multi-component interventions achieve substantial reductions in the levels of IPV over programmatic timeframes. Violence prevention programmes – especially in low and middle income countries – address attitudes, norms, beliefs, stigmatisation and dominant notions of masculinity.

Political leadership and governmental investment are essential to reducing violence: Governments should take leadership in promoting change and supporting a co-ordinated, national response. The post-2015 Development Goal on Gender Equality should include a target that monitors 12 month prevalence of IPV.

The health sector – together with other sectors and with civil society – plays a critical role in both prevention and response to VAW and violence against children: Health ministries seek to eliminate stigmatising attitudes among providers, ensure training of health care providers to provide an effective response, and collaborate in community-based prevention efforts.

Investments are needed to strengthen data collection: Research and evaluation of effective strategies for prevention of and response to all forms of VAW and need to pay particular attention to girls.


A gallery of images from the London launch of the series.


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