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  • August 24, 2018
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Violence against women reading list: the 10 essential reports

Must-reads from the world's leading organisations and scholars

More than one in three women worldwide have experienced violence from a partner or sexual violence from a non-partner, according to the WHO, which describes violence against women (VAW) as a “global public health problem of epidemic proportions.”

But decades of activism by the women’s movement have finally forced VAW onto the global agenda. While progress has been uneven — often stymied by the chronic underfunding of the field — a vast body of research has started to comprehensively analyse the causes of this violence, and what works to prevent it.

• For more like this, see our violence prevention newsfeed.

So Apolitical has created a list of the 10 essential reports for anyone who wants to understand the current state of the field. We hope you’ll find it helpful. Add your own ideas in the comments below, or tell us about them on Twitter.

Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies, and Practices (2017)
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC’s technical packages are rigorous, comprehensive and accessible — their offering on preventing intimate partner violence is no exception. With a comprehensive overview of the evidence on a range of interventions from legislative changes to economic empowerment programs for families, the document is an essential aid in mapping what’s already working.

What Works to Prevent Violence? Global Evidence Reviews (2015)
UK Government, Department for International Development
The UK Government’s £25million ($32million) flagship program to strengthen the evidence base on violence prevention has been groundbreaking. Perhaps most useful — though not short — are the Global Evidence Reviews, four documents looking at the state of the field of research, interventions, response mechanisms for women and girls who have experienced violence, and the challenges of effectively scaling up what works.

Violence against women: an integrated, ecological framework (1998)
Lori Heise
Few concepts have shaped the prevention field like Lori Heise’s “ecological framework” of violence. In a groundbreaking 1998 paper, Heise argued that violence is driven by factors that operate at individual, family, community and societal levels, each of which must be tackled to end it. For a recent update on the model, see Emma Fulu and Stephanie Miedema’s incisive 2015 paper on the need to “globalise” the model.

From work with men and boys to changes of social norms and reduction of inequities in gender relations: a conceptual shift in prevention of violence against women and girls (2015)
Rachel Jewkes, Michael Flood, James Lang
For the last two decades, awareness of the need to engage men and boys in prevention efforts has grown exponentially — though the approach remains controversial in some quarters. This short article, published in The Lancet, examines the existing evidence on interventions engaging men and attempts to isolate which factors are most important to interventions working.

Watering the Leaves, Starving the Roots (2013)
Angelika Arutyunova and Cindy Clark
AWID’s report on the state of funding for women’s rights organisations is a blistering analysis of a field that governments are all too happy to name check, but all too reluctant to fund. Their analysis determined that the median income of 720 women’s organisations surveyed was only $20,000. Indeed the combined total of funding women’s NGOs received in 2010 amounted to only $106 million, compared to aid group World Vision’s $2.61 billion budget.

Preventing gender-based violence victimization in adolescent girls in lower-income countries: Systematic review of reviews (2017)
Kathryn Yount, Kathleen Krause and Stephanie Miedema
Low- and middle-income countries are routinely underrepresented in violence prevention literature, as are adolescent girls. This systematic review goes some way to filling the gap. The review suggests that community engagement, skill-building to promote girls’ agency, and social-network expansion are all promising strategies, but that much more research remains to be done.

Why do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantative Findings from the United Nations Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific (2013)
Emma Fulu, Xian Warner, Stephanie Miedema, Rachel Jewkes, Tim Roselli and James Lang
This landmark study drew on the UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific, an ambitious survey of 10,000 men across the region, of whom half admitted to using violence against women. The study examines which kinds of violence — physical, sexual, economic and others — are most used by men in different regions, and at which points in the life cycle. The study affirms that “violence against women is an expression of women’s subordination and inequality in the private and public spheres” and is driven by patriarchal notions of masculinity that normalise violence as an assertion of power.

Feminist mobilisation and progressive policy change: why governments take action to combat violence against women (2013)
Laurel Weldon and Mala Htun
Weldon and Htun’s groundbreaking analysis examines why some countries have addressed violence against women robustly, while others have largely ignored it. Their conclusion, drawn from an analysis of policies in 70 countries between 1975 and 2005, is unequivocal: “the most important and consistent factor driving policy change is feminist activism,” they argue, which plays “a more important role than left-wing parties, numbers of women legislators, or even national wealth.”

UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993)
United Nations General Assembly
This short declaration was a turning point in raising the profile of violence against women in international law. It builds on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) and laid the groundwork for the achievements in Beijing in 1995. A landmark achievement in women’s anti-violence activism.

Cross-national and multilevel correlates of partner violence: an analysis of data from population-based surveys (2015)
Lori Heise and Andreas Kotsadam
This complex data analysis examines the macro-level predictors of violence against women and confirms feminist-informed theories of gender inequality driving violence across diverse regions of the world. The two most important predictors, the study argues, are norms that permit male authority over women and beating, and property rights for women.

(Picture credit: Flickr/aehdeschaine)

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