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EvidenceEvidence Syntheses
UN Women

Interventions to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls

This rapid review paper examines the most common and promising interventions that specifically seek to reduce different types of VAWG as an outcome, and those that target key risk factors for perpetration and experience of violence.  Despite the limitations in the evidence base, the review concludes that at the time of writing:

  • There was fair evidence to recommend: relationship-level interventions such as Stepping Stones; micro-finance combined with gender-transformative approaches, such as IMAGE; community mobilisation interventions to change social norms, such as SASA!; interventions that primarily target boys and men through group education combined with community mobilisation; and parenting programmes.
  • There was insufficient evidence to recommend single component communication campaigns as a means of preventing VAWG, but the evidence that does exist suggests that they are not intensive enough to prevent VAWG. Alcohol reduction programmes show promise in High Income Countries (HICs), but more evidence is required from Lower and Middle Income Countries (LMICs); and it appears that such interventions should be combined with broader prevention initiatives in order to be of most use to preventVAWG. There is insufficient evidence on school-based interventions, mainly because they have not measured VAWG as an outcome sufficiently, but they show promise in reducing risk factors for violence.
  • There was conflicting evidence on bystander programmes and school curriculum programmes, which does not allow a recommendation for or against these interventions in terms of prevention. 

Interventions reviewed

1. Interventions that primarily focus on intervening at the individual level: 

  • Economic empowerment interventions
  • Social empowerment interventions for vulnerable groups
  • Bystander interventions primarily 
  • Engaging men and boys
  • Interventions to tackle alcohol abuse, as key risk factors for VAWG 

2. Interventions that primarily focus on intervening at the relationship or family level: 

  • Peer and relationship interventions 
  • Parenting interventions 

3. Interventions that primarily focus on intervening at group or at community level: 

  • One-dimensional communication and advocacy campaigns 
  • Multi-component community mobilisation campaigns 
  • Group education combined with community mobilisation 

4. Interventions that primarily focus on intervening at a structural or institutional level: 

  • Whole school and other holistic approaches 
  • School curriculum-based interventions (in combination with community outreach) 
  • Interventions to increase girls’ school attendance (reduction in indirect costs; improvement of infrastructure)

Key recommendations for violence prevention and research

  • Increase investment in evaluation of violence prevention programmes
  • Innovate, try new strategies and interventions, push boundaries
  • Use consistent and rigorous  research methods
  • Measure impact if intervention on levels of VAWG not just risk factors
  • Have a test a clear theory of change
  • Promote and evaluate multi-compnent interventions
  • Measure community-level impact not just impact on individual behaviour
  • Assess programme costs and scalability
  • Implement and evaluate programmes for different populations, especially vulnerable groups
  • Research pathways to change