OverviewDo’s and don’ts
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Last edited: January 03, 2012

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This module provides practical guidance to institutions and individuals interested or involved in campaigning to end violence against women and girls (VAW), including, amongst others, women’s groups, human rights and other civil society and development organizations, government entities, and community groups. It draws from and builds on time-tested tools and literature, a growing body of evidence from research and a wide range of campaigns to end VAW.

The module is divided into 8 sections which describe the different, multi-faceted aspects of campaigning on VAW. The last section offers links to existing campaigns and relevant networks, as well as references for further information. Readers who wish to gain a quick overview should focus on this introduction and Guiding Principles, as well as the beginning of the sections on Campaign Planning and Campaign Strategy.

Essential knowledge on VAW: Readers who have little experience in work to end VAW are advised to start by visiting the Overview of Violence against Women and Girls in Programming Essentials.

Terminology: Throughout this module, the acronym VAW designates violence against women and girls. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) defines VAW as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. “There are many forms of violence against women, including sexual, physical, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner; physical or sexual abuse by family members or others; sexual harassment and abuse by authority figures (such as teachers, police officers or employers); trafficking for forced labour or sex; and such traditional practices as forced or child marriages, dowry-related violence  and honour killings, when women are murdered in the name of family honour. Systematic sexual abuse in conflict situations is another form of violence against women” (WHO, 2009. Promoting Gender Equality to Prevent Violence against Women.)

See also Defining Violence Against Women and Girls in Programming Essentials.

Key elements of campaigns on VAW:

  • Strong basis in human rights and gender analysis: Regardless of the campaign context, theme and strategy, any campaign on VAW must be grounded in the understanding that VAW is a human rights violation rooted in, and contributing to, power imbalances between women and men.
  • Campaigning ethics: In campaigns on VAW, ethics are particularly important to prevent the potentially severe security and emotional hazards that people involved in the campaign may be exposed to, such as women and children survivors of VAW, or advocates who speak out publicly. Ethics also contribute to the credibility and effectiveness of a campaign. 
  • Strategic campaign planning: This requires formative research and analysis to define the problem, assess the situation (including risks and opportunities), identify the stakeholders, and develop a theory of change that illustrates the approach to best achieve the campaign goal.
  • Campaign strategy: Just as planning determines WHAT to do, strategy determines HOW to do it. It represents the roadmap or course of action that should be taken to meet the campaign goal. It lays out the outcomes and types of actions that should be carried out (by whom, how and when), and the target audiences that should be reached (by whom, how and when).
  • Campaign implementation: This focuses on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of translating the campaign strategy into concrete actions and activities. It involves action planning, monitoring, determining campaign leadership and management structures, how to work together in alliances, and manage tension.
  • Campaign communications: Communication is the very essence of campaigning, and a decisive element in any successful campaign on VAW. Effective campaign communication is multi-pronged, combining different techniques and tools to reach and influence target audiences.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: These are campaign management activities to ensure the campaign is run as effectively as possible, and to learn from experience. Monitoring tracks campaign implementation, while evaluation analyses the data and findings tracked to assess the effectiveness of the campaign.
  • Campaign financing and fundraising: Budgeting is a critical part of transparent financial management and accountability. When combined with rigorous financial control, it enhances the efficiency of a campaign, and protects it from potentially damaging allegations of financial mismanagement. This is especially significant in campaigns that need to raise funds from external donors.