Exchange of good practice on awareness-raising on violence against women
The exchange of good practices organised in London on the 7-8th of February 2012 discussed awareness raising activities as a tool to end violence against women and girls. The UK and Greece presented their action plans in the field which in both cases contain ‘awareness raising’ components.
The UK Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls was launched in March 2011. It includes a wide range of activities by different ministries, among them a prevention campaign targeted at young people to tackle abuse in teenage relationships and support to national helplines for victims of violence. Furthermore, it foresees training for (clinical) professionals with the aim of providing them with specialised knowledge in sexual assault work. Another important element of the action plan is media campaigns to generate public awareness and increase the understanding of sexual violence and abuse.
Greece launched its Integrated Action Plan in Favour of Women and Combating Gender-based Violence at National and Local Level in November 2009. Actions implemented include: a two-year awareness raising campaign targeted at the general population, women and girl victims of violence, professionals, NGOs and women’s organisations; the operation of a 24 hour/365 days per year helpline; establishment of new shelters and counselling centres, as well as the up-grading of existing ones, and training activities aimed at professionals (counsellors, lawyers, police officers and healthcare workers).
The discussions during the seminar highlighted the fact that a campaign needs to be both anchored in an action plan and linked to other measures, including support to victims. It requires clear political commitment and a close partnership with stakeholders and NGOs. There must be a coherent awareness raising strategy with well-defined key elements and target groups. It was noted that there seems to be a shift from campaigns with undifferentiated target groups towards more specific ones addressing victims, bystanders, potential perpetrators, professionals, young people or minority groups. However, few campaigns focus on men as potential supporters of prevention (through images of positive masculinities, men as role models, etc.). For all target groups, the key messages have to be carefully formulated accordingly, and in order to increase community ownership of the campaigns.
Moreover, it became clear that awareness raising campaigns should pay greater attention to the images they convey, for example to avoid reinforcing the representation of women as passive victims and men as perpetrators. Furthermore, in the current period of austerity, ways to raise awareness without having to allocate huge resources might help ensure the continuity of actions. The lack of adequate research and data and the difficulty in evaluating the effectiveness and impact of awareness raising initiatives were also discussed.