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Develop community-based prevention programming

Last edited: February 25, 2011

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  • It is crucial in the fight against violence against women and girls to create links between communities and health services and support the participation of health care providers in broader prevention efforts and advocacy (USAID, 2006).
  • Public health education campaigns at the community level can serve as a preventive factor by letting women and men know that violence is unacceptable (Luke, 2007) and by also educating them about the consequences of violence for themselves and their children (Guedes, 2004).    These campaigns should at minimum seek to:
    • Promote gender-equitable, nonviolent sexual partnerships;
    • Increase women’s ability to make decisions about the timing and nature of sexual relationships;
    • Decrease tolerance for violence by raising awareness of it as a human rights and public health problem;
    • Encourage victims of abuse to seek help and to disclose violence to service providers.
  • Methods for community-based prevention through the health sector include: 
    • Clinic and community-based education and other support programmes.  Efforts using radio programmes, theatre, videos, pamphlets, talks and other mediums, such as microcredit (e.g. SASA!  and Radar/IMAGE);
    • Mass and multi-media behaviour change campaigns, such as edutainment programmes (e.g. Soul City and Sexto Sentido );
    • Programmes for men aimed at promoting gender equitable relationships and changing norms, attitudes and behaviours (e.g. Program H and Men as Partners);
    • Gender-based violence prevention within HIV/AIDS and adolescent reproductive health programmes (e.g. Stepping Stones, ReproSalud) (Bott, Morrison and Ellsberg, 2005a).


Case Study:  Profamilia at Work to Address Violence against Women (Dominican Republic and Colombia)

In the Dominican Republic Profamilia has successfully increased awareness on violence against women and girls through outreach to media, women’s groups and communities. Efforts have also been made to increase knowledge on women’s rights. For example, in 1997 a law to increase the protection of violence, especially domestic violence against women and children was passed. Recognizing that this new legislation would mean very little if women did not know their rights, Profamilia took on the task of disseminating its contents. In order to explain the new law and the process for reporting violence, three different publications were compiled and disseminated. With the aim of reaching a wide audience, each publication was designed for populations with varying degrees of literacy (Population Council, 2006).

In Colombia, Profamilia maintains a strong role across the country in providing sexual and reproductive health services.  An important part of their work focuses on addressing sexual violence. They provide integrated advisory, medical and psychosocial, legal and centres of attention and referral services to survivors.  The organization has also launched a major campaign A Viva Voz mainly aimed at adolescents through the engagement of well-known pop stars and the use of multimedia.



Sexual and Reproductive Rights from A to Z: for Health Care Providers Focusing on Intra-family and Sexual Violence (2007). The training guide and module are available in Spanish.

Student Booklet on Sexual Violence (2007).  Available in Spanish.



For more information about community-based prevention see community mobilization in the Prevention Module.

Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Prevention Course (Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability/ World Health Organization). Available in English.

VicHealth Review of Communication Components of Social Marketing/Public Education Campaigns Focusing on Violence Against Women (Donovan and Vlais/RJD Consulting for ViCHealth, 2005).  Available in English.

 Making a Difference: Strategic Communication to End Violence against Women (UNIFEM, 2003b).  Available in English.

 How to Mobilize Communities for Health and Social Change (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, 2003).  Available in English.

GBV Prevention Network Communications Materials (Gender-based Violence Prevention Network).  Materials available in a number of languages.

A Field Guide to Designing a Health Communication Strategy (JHU School of Public Health, Center for Communication Programs, 2003) provides general tips on how to construct a communications strategy that is not specific to violence against women, but provides a methodology that can be adapted.  Available in English.

Gateway to Health Communication & Social Marketing Practice (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  Available in English.