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Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls: What Does the Evidence Say?

This paper reviews the evidence on interventions to reduce the prevalence and incidence of violence against women and girls (VAWG). It covers a wide range of intervention models and many forms of violence – intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual assault, female genital mutilation, and child marriage. It shows that the evidence is highly skewed towards studies from high-income countries and mainly focused on responses to violence.

The evidence reviews suggests that women-centred, advocacy, and home-visitation programmes can reduce a woman’s risk of further victimisation, with less conclusive evidence for the preventive effect of programmes for perpetrators. In low-income and middle-income countries, there is a greater research focus on violence prevention, with promising evidence on the effect of group training for women and men, community mobilisation interventions, and combined livelihood and training interventions for women.

Across different forms of violence, effective programmes are commonly participatory, engage multiple stakeholders, support critical discussion about gender relationships and the acceptability of violence, and support greater communication and shared decision making among family members, as well as non-violent behaviour.

Intervention evidence from High Income Countries

The evidence review looks at the following intervention types:

  • Women-centred interventions
  • Interventions for perpetrators
  • School-based interventions
  • High-level policy commitment and legal reform

Promising Practice from Low and Middle Income Countries

The evidence review looks at the following intervention types:

  • Legislative and justice sector responses
  • Health sector approaches
  • Violence prevention programmes
  • Group-based training interventions to empower women and girls
  • Group training that targets men and boys
  • Group training with men and women: synchronising gender approaches
  • Community mobilisation

The review also summarises global evidence on economic empowerment interventions and cash transfers.

Key quote "Overall, the findings point to the imperative of greatly increasing investment in violence research and programme evaluation, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. "