Ending Violence against Women

Violence against women degrades women’s human rights, dignity, and freedom.

WLP is conducting workshops for grassroots women, training trainers on advocating against gender-based violence, and leading local and international campaigns to reform laws and increase resources to protect women. 

Program Highlights

Workshops for police, law enforcement, and judicial officers

Mobilization for reforming local and national laws

Public education on violence against women

Local support and services for survivors

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Violence cuts deeply into the liberties we should all have: the right to be safe at home, the right to walk safely on the streets, the right to attend school, go to work, and socialize with friends. We should be able to expect that attackers will be punished, that justice will be done, and that we can get care for injuries.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women

Violence against women impacts the women who are its direct victims, as well as families and the larger community, by spreading a climate of fear, raising health costs, lowering productivity, and stalling social and economic advancement. Although many countries have passed laws to protect women and girls from violence, enforcement of these laws remains problematic. Women remain vulnerable to violence because of gaps in the judicial and law enforcement systems, absence of protection mechanisms, and patriarchal social institutions that perpetuate violence against women and girls.    

In many countries today, long-held beliefs about gender stereotypes promote women being treated as second class citizens, and men as women’s care-takers and disciplinarians. The results range from lax enforcement by police and prosecutors against sexual harassment and assault of women, to terrible honor crimes committed by family members. Moreover, political, economic, academic, and religious leaders are overwhelmingly male worldwide, which has allowed for the insidious preservation of the status quo. 

WLP and our partners empower women to counter violence through laws and actions. Participants in our trainings include victims—and family and friends of victims—of intimate partner violence, honor crimes, early marriage, rape, trafficking, sexual harassment, and gender-based hate crimes. And because we believe that VAW can be eradicated only where both men and women refuse to tolerate it, we welcome men's involvement in our workshops and advocacy campaigns.

For over a decade, WLP partners have gathered statistics on violence, developed curriculum to end violence, produced documentaries, and organized countless gatherings of activists from across the Global South to exchange ideas and build coalitions. Our partners have been on the frontlines of pressing for diverse and wide-reaching legal reforms that improve women’s safety and security. We have addressed sexual harassment and assault, intimate partner violence, honor killings, women’s suffering as victims of violence in war, and most recently violence perpetrated against women refugees.

Curriculum on Ending Violence against Women

WLP’s Victories Over Violence: Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls is a practitioners’ manual covering 16 lessons, which begin with scenarios in the home and private sphere and advance to scenarios in the public sphere. Case studies in each lesson are drawn from real-life events and feature stories set in Haiti, Malaysia, Nepal, and the United States.

Our partners have used the manual in trainings with legislators, female and male university students, refugee communities, police, and survivors of domestic violence, among many others. Victories Over Violence is frequently used in conjunction with other WLP manuals, in particular with Leading to Compassion, which explores peace-building for human rights activists. 

Documentary Film: From Fear to Freedom

In WLP’s film From Fear to Freedom: Ending Violence Against Women, experts and activists from across the globe discuss the root causes of gender-based violence, share strategies to combat it, and provide inspiring accounts of the milestones already achieved through the international women’s movement. From Fear to Freedom is our most widely viewed film. The film is used in trainings, health classes for youth, workshops on gender-based violence, and in a host of other settings.

Campaigns to End Violence against Women

WLP partners are engaged in dozens of campaigns—local, national and international—to raise awareness and improve laws that address gender-based violence. For example, WLP’s partner in Jordan fought tirelessly to repeal Article 308 of the Jordan Penal Code, which permitted rapists to evade punishment by marrying their victims. As a result of activists’ continuous pressure and broad public outreach, Jordan’s Cabinet recently agreed to revoke the law. Another example is WLP’s partner in Pakistan that has mobilized the nationwide Campaign to Eliminate Hate Speech and Violence Against Women (Bolo Zimmedari Sai). WLP workshop participants have been involved in the messaging, dissemination, and implementation of the campaign. WLP’s partner in Malaysia has focused on involving and educating young men and boys about VAW through its annual participation in the White Ribbon Run, held around November 25 (the white ribbon is an international symbol for the campaign to end violence against women). 

In addition to local and regional ‘ending violence against women’ campaigns, WLP and its partners participate annually in the global campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The campaign runs from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10 (International Human Rights Day). WLP and our partners organize workshops, screenings of From Fear to Freedom, radio programs, school visits, and other innovative projects.

Campaigns to Reform Family Laws

Our past decade and a half of work in dozens of countries to end gender-based violence is coalescing into a global advocacy campaign to reform laws that dictate women’s role in the family. In over 20 countries, WLP and our partners have been chipping away at the consequences for women of discriminatory laws and traditions—from child marriage to honor killings. WLP’s international research and advocacy project, Family Law Reform to Challenge Gender-based Violence, is the catalyst for the international campaign. We have sponsored investigations into family law reform efforts in 11 countries, and we are cataloguing relevant laws, advocacy experiences, and successful reforms. This new initiative brings many anti-VAW campaigns together behind a united vision to reform family laws, and by extension to reform the social norms that tolerate physical and emotional harm to women. 

Read more about Reforming Family Laws.

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