Awareness raising activities with to rickshaw drivers to prevent sexual violence in public transportation in Quezon, Manila in the Philippines. Photo:  Miguel Lizana / AECID.

Quezon City in the Philippines is one of 23 municipalities globally where UN Women works with local governments to make public spaces safe. This includes preventing sexual harassment on public transport. Photo: AECID/Miguel Lizana

Ending violence against women and girls

Ending violence against women icon

Around the world, violence against women and girls denies them their rights and leaves a devastating trail of trauma, injury and death, as well as lost opportunities to thrive through work or an education. One in three women will experience some form of physical and/or sexual violence in her lifetime.

UN Women assists countries in developing laws and policies that are effectively implemented and help establish integrated services responding to survivors’ needs for health care, legal assistance, psychological and socioeconomic support.

In many countries, progress in enacting laws, developing policies and establishing services has proceeded at a rapid pace, allowing UN Women to increasingly shift its focus to preventing violence from happening in the first place. Our programmes identify discriminatory behaviours, attitudes and norms that foster violence and work to engage new ways of thinking and acting among people, from all walks of life—political figures, men journalists, religious leaders, sports champions and many others.

Keeping cities safe

In an impoverished area of Quezon City, in the Philippines, Teresita Longcanaya accompanies her 26-year-old daughter to the local tricycle stand every morning on her way to work and meets her every evening to accompany her home. The risk of sexual harassment on the streets here is very real—men even grope women and girls while robbing them.


countries with a combined population of over 1 billion women and girls have strengthened their legislation to address all forms of violence against women


countries with a combined population of over 466 million women and girls have adopted National Action Plans or strategies in this area

Combatting trafficking

Economic opportunities are scarce in rural Albania, making women and girls acutely vulnerable to the human trafficking that feeds the sex trade. UN Women has worked with civil society groups, the Government and media to stop this crime and assist survivors. A national campaign has raised awareness, including through a powerful anti-trafficking video broadcast on national television. A 30-member Advisory Media Forum supports professional and ethical reporting among journalists by providing information and training and by tracking gaps in accuracy of reporting.

To address the lack of reliable data on the prevalence of gender-based violence [GRV] in the LAC region, CARICOM is working with UN Women to develop a Regional Model of National Prevalence Surveys that will inform policy and programme for more effective GBV response and prevention.

Caricom Statement, CSW60 General Discussion, 15 March 2016
Women at an ASEAN conference. In 2015, ASEAN adopted the first regional action plan on ending violence against women. Photo: UN Women

Women at an ASEAN conference. In 2015, ASEAN adopted the first regional action plan on ending violence against women. Photo: UN Women

Frameworks for action

With the Sustainable Development Agenda committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls, UN Women has led an initiative involving six other UN entities to create the Framework to Underpin Action to Prevent Violence against Women. It maps evidence-based and emerging practices in preventing violence with a focus on addressing root causes, risk and protective factors. A global essential services package—jointly developed by UN Women and four other UN entities—builds on leading global expertise in health, police and judicial systems and social services, and is currently undergoing field testing in 10 countries.

What if we switched roles: a social experiment

Desirée Akpa Akpro Loyou. Photo: WAGGGS


SDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 4: Quality education Desirée Akpa Akpro Loyou, 37, is a social worker and Deputy Commissioner General responsible for training, for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in Côte d’Ivoire. In January 2016, she participated in a regional training event in Togo organized by UN Women and WAGGGS to teach Girl Guides how to deliver the non-formal education curriculum, Voices against Violence. The efforts are connected with the new SDGs. SDG 4 seeks to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, including through education for human rights and gender equality; while SDG 5 has among its targets that of eliminating from public and private life all forms of violence against women and girls.

Desirée Akpa Akpro Loyou: “When you raise awareness in schools, this results in reduced violence.”

“I was abused twice. The first time was when I was in primary school and was 8 or 9 years old. A teaching assistant tried to touch me. After that, I withdrew within myself and distrusted all men and boys. It is obvious that violence can prevent girls from pursuing their studies, especially if such acts are committed by their guardian or teacher. This will have an impact on their academic results.

I was 21 years old when I became a Girl Scout. I was very shy and withdrawn, but as Guides we can do things we would not manage to do on our own. Now, I am a social worker for the Government and Deputy Commissioner General for training for the Girl Scouts, under the Ministry of Youth. I conduct awareness-raising campaigns in schools and organize trainings for key people, both male and female, in the fight against gender-based violence. Education plays a vital role.

When I speak in front of 400 students and am standing on the podium, and when I talk about violence in schools and the risk factors, I share the experiences that I survived. When you raise awareness in schools, this results in reduced violence. When we talk with students, several cases of abuse emerge, especially among girls. Such acts are often committed by teachers responsible for their education. The story of my life captures their attention. I want to reach out to girls and tell them to speak up and not be silent.

ending violence against women and the flagship programmes