A Call to Action: The Violence Against Women Lancet Series

Rosalind Bygott | Nov 30, 2014

“This call to action holds a common human rights agenda uniting our visions and clarifying our demands. With it we can be many voices speaking loudly and consistently backed by evidence and experience in ways that convince, inspire and challenge others outside our movements to use their power. It is a strategic demand for change.”

On Friday 21st November, The Lancet is publishing a series of papers on violence against women and girls and how to prevent it, with a call to action to the international community to focus its work on ending violence for good.

Womankind is supporting The Lancet’s call to action alongside organisations including the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Raising Voices.

Lee Webster, our Head of Policy and Communications, explains that to prevent violence “governments need to prioritise tackling the underlying causes of violence and support women’s rights organisations – which have substantial expertise in this area – to carry out this long-term work.”

The five papers in the series cover the evidence base in prevention, the health sector response, the role of women and men in successful prevention efforts and practical lessons from experience on the ground, and call for specific actions to eliminate violence against women and girls. The papers were written by The Lancet in collaboration with Professor Charlotte Watts and Dr Cathy Zimmerman from LSHTM, and Dr Claudia Garcia Moreno from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The world has begun to pay attention to violence against women and girls and recognises it as a fundamental violation of human rights. One in three women will experience violence in her lifetime, according to a major study by the Gender Violence and Health Centre (at the LSHTM), WHO and the South African Medical Research Council. Following up on that research, The Lancet Series examines the evidence on current, promising and future action to address violence against women and girls in all its forms.

The series highlights how “achieving the goal of women living healthy lives, free from violence, will demand not just good intentions, but well-coordinated, funded strategies by international bodies, governments, civil society and communities” and calls on local, national and global leaders and policy makers to commit to five actions:

  • 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
  • Create equality – ensure national laws and policies prohibit all forms of violence against women and girls and promote equality
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

You can read the series online for free at: www.thelancet.com/series/violence-against-women-and-girls

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th November) next week we are launching a research report ‘Prevention is possible: The role of women’s rights organisations in ending violence against women and girls in Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia’. It will highlight the importance of tackling the underlying causes of violence and the vital role of women’s rights organisations in working to address it.


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