Credit: Newsha Tavakolian for TooYoungToWed & The Girl Generation
Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls

Addressing violence against women and girls

Ending violence against women and girls is one of the major challenges of our time. It cuts across age, socio-economic, educational and geographic boundaries.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is rooted in social norms that lead to gender-based inequalities and discrimination. To effectively reduce and prevent VAWG, these norms need to be countered and transformed at individual, family, community and societal levels.  This can be achieved through outreach, awareness-raising and social change communications.

Policy makers and institutions can play a crucial role in developing and implementing regulations and offering services that foster gender equality, help reduce and prevent VAWG and provide adequate support to survivors. Civil society organisations and activists are often driving this process forwards and need to be strengthened to be able to hold policy makers to account.

We believe that women and girls need to be at the centre of efforts to end VAWG but also recognise the importance of men and boys in bringing about change. We actively engage with individuals and communities, as well as with organisations and development partners in what we are doing.  

We are working to end violence against women and girls by:

  • Addressing drivers of VAWG and challenging social norms through social change communication, promoting and amplifying a positive framework with a focus on the value of women and girls.  We galvanise social movements, increase local ownership and hold stakeholders to account.
  • Generating and using evidence to inform change. We involve marginalised groups in generating evidence to inform services and policies that affect them.
  • Promoting accountability by ensuring service providers and decision makers are held to account through working through the media and advocates, monitoring the implementation of national and international commitments on VAWG and through the use of tools such as scorecards to track progress
  • Supporting policy dialogue and development by working with government and civil society, and facilitating marginalised groups to engage in policy debate.
  • Enabling institutions across sectors to address VAWG, for example by working with health and education service providers to integrate better prevention and response strategies,  and strengthening community-government relationships. 
  • Building the skills and capacity of key stakeholders by ensuring grass roots organisations and government stakeholders are equipped with the skills and resources to implement local and national initiatives to address gender issues, including VAWG.

We manage The Girl Generation, a social change communications initiative that provides a global platform to support the African-led movement to end FGM within one generation. The Girl Generation amplifies the voice of its members, including grassroots civil society organisations and activists, through social change communications capacity building, working with the media, and identifying opportunities to inform national and global commitments to end FGM. 

In Nepal we are working with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Women and Child Development to develop policies and initiatives addressing gender, equity and social inclusion (GESI) across health and other sectors. We have supported establishing an institutional structure to introduce a GESI perspective into the way health services are planned, managed and delivered. We are working towards mainstreaming responses to VAWG across multiple sectors. We have supported the setup of 21 One Stop Crisis Management Centres providing access to crucial support and services to victims of gender based violence.

In many programmes we use a rapid research tool (Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation Research, or PEER) to capture evidence on sensitive issues. We work with marginalised groups to understand how we can change women and girls’ vulnerabilities to violence, and improve their access to care. In Swaziland we used findings from PEER research with young women to inform the design of sexual and reproductive health services, including strengthening child protection mechanisms. In the UK we conducted the first PEER study with women from London’s Somali, Ethiopian and Sudanese communities to investigate attitudes towards FGM and identity, and how women from these communities perceive health services in the UK. The findings were used by activists and others to highlight the need for better prevention and access to services for women and girls affected by FGM. 


The Girl Generation has over 600 members working together towards ending FGM in one generation

21 one-stop crisis management centres have been established for gender-based violence survivors in Nepal

Our research findings informed design of youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services in Swaziland.

Our experts

  • Kirstan Hawkins, PhD
    Kirstan Hawkins is responsible for developing and supporting Options' programmes, and ensuring the quality of technical inputs for our social change communications programmes. She is a leading expert in the design and implementation of health sector programmes, with expertise in sexual and reproductive health, maternal health and health systems strengthening. Previously based at Swansea University, Kirstan developed the PEER (Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation and Research) approach, an innovative research methodology that trains community-based researchers to access critical behavioural information from their peer groups.

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More about Options
Established in 1992, Options has worked in over 50 countries. We lead and manage health sector programmes on behalf of international donors and national governments.
Established in 1992, Options has worked in over 50 countries. We lead and manage health sector programmes on behalf of international donors and national governments.

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