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Fulu et al. (2014) – What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls – Evidence Review of Interventions to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls


The purpose of this paper is to examine the evidence base for the effectiveness of interventions to prevent violence against women and girls. This rapid assessment, along with the other working group papers, is designed to:

  • inform the development of the What Works research agenda and priorities for innovation; and
  • establish a baseline of the state of knowledge and evidence against which to assess the achievements of the What Works programme over the next five years.

In this paper we examine interventions that seek to specifically reduce different types of violence against women and girls as an outcome, and those that target key risk factors for violence perpetration and experiences. It is not an exhaustive list of interventions, but focuses on the most common and promising intervention areas, grouped by entry points or platforms.

First, this review considers interventions attempting to raise awareness and change social norms, particularly around the acceptability of violence. Within this broad category we consider one dimensional communication and advocacy campaigns and multi-component community mobilization campaigns. Secondly, we examine social and economic empowerment interventions. These have the potential to prevent violence given the strong qualitative evidence that women’s economic and social disempowerment and economic dependence on men both make them vulnerable to experiencing violence, and less able to challenge or leave violent situations. Recognising that men are the primary perpetrators of violence and key partners in creating change, prevention interventions have increasingly focused on engaging men and boys, along with women and girls often through school, peer or relationship interventions. These are the focus of section three. There is strong evidence on the association between adverse childhood experiences and later experiences or perpetration of VAWG, thus early childhood interventions are an important prevention area discussed in section four. Finally we present interventions operating at the individual level to tackle alcohol abuse and depression, as key risk factors for VAWG.

The first half of the paper presents a summary of the evidence by broad intervention typology including a description of the intervention type; a summary of the extent of the evidence found; and an assessment of what the evidence suggests as to the effectiveness of the intervention type in preventing violence against women and girls. We discuss the evidence with regard to impact on perpetration and experiences of violence as well as on known risk factors for violence. The second half of the paper discusses the findings, presenting an overall summary of the strengths, gaps and limitations in the body of evidence; a synthesis of the overall findings; and a discussion of what this means for the prevention agenda. Finally we present recommendations in terms of priorities for supporting innovation and conducting research.

-Excerpt from Text, 1. Introduction, p. 4.


Fulu, Emma, Alice Kerr-Wilson, and James Lang2014. What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls: Evidence Review of Interventions to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls. Pretoria, South Africa: Medical Research Council.




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Fulu et al. (2014) – What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls – Evidence Review of Interventions to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls

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