Raising Awareness

Raising awareness of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG):

Campaigns have the power to change the world, but you need to be prepared to take small steps. Firstly identify what it is you want to change and think of a concrete goal. When campaigning, keep the vision of a world without Violence Against Women and Girls in your mind but focus on simple steps that will help create that world. Here are some examples of actions you might consider campaigning for:

  • Putting Violence Against Women and Girls into the education curriculum;
  • More money for local support services;
  • Change the way that women, particularly BME women, are represented in music films;
  • Set up a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) health clinic in your local city;
  • Stop selling lads mags in the local newsagents;
  • Change the display of toys or clothes or shoes to not be pink for girls and blue for boys;
  • Prioritise Violence Against Women and Girls prevention in the local authorities and the police & crime commissioners strategy and action plan.

White Ribbon Day Campaign – a tool for Violence Against Women And Girls campaigning within secondary schools:

Equation (formerly Nottinghamshire Domestic Violence Forum) established a Whole School Approach that included campaigning with staff and students on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) issues. The international campaign, White Ribbon, was a key tool in highlighting VAWG issues and also emphasising the responsibility men and boys have in ending VAWG. The actual campaign itself encourages schools to feel part of something larger than just their school. It also has a fixed day, which helps the campaign have a focal point. There is also an award system which schools can reach if they meet White Ribbon criteria.

They organised an awareness raising event which involved 200 Year 7 and 8 students, along with 30 staff, forming a people white ribbon, which was filmed and photographed. There was also a large photographic version of the ribbon on a notice board in the hall where students had lunch and also a parents evening was held. A short film was played on a loop on the school TVs and the Community TV channel played the film 9 times a day over the campaign period. This meant the campaign was able to reach those who participated, further members of the school community, parents and also those who view the community channel. The campaign event built momentum and motivation with participants and also provide an opportunity to film and photograph the experience, that was utilised to remind the school participants of the issue and their involvement with it. The event also enabled the school to work towards the Silver White Ribbon Award, which they achieved, making them the first school in the country to receive this certificate.

Nottingham Domestic Violence Partnership worked in schools to spread a campaign of prevention that enhanced the more in-depth work being delivered in the class room. The evaluation reported positive impacts of the campaign:

‘it’s much higher profile around the school with display work and things and I think the students are much more clued up than they were, so definitely a big impact.’  (Secondary school Teacher)’…

‘seeing the posters around you see the big title ‘Domestic violence’. You think back to the presentation and things tend to stick in your mind more if you hear them.’ (Young Man in a Secondary school)

Using posters, infographics or displays to raise awareness of Violence Against Women and Girls across the institution can create more open conversation about what to accept and not accept in a relationship. Through working with young people to create a visual language you can create a common communication tool for students and staff. It is important for there to be a shared understanding of what Violence Against Women and Girls is and for that to come from the voice and experience of students in the school.

so its developed more of a shared understanding of what it is and that’s evident in some of the posters that the students have got displayed around the building that they’ve produced themselves, that it’s not messages that are coming in from outside the school now but actually it’s been developed with the students from within the school, and that’s how you change a school culture is actually working with the students and young people instead of imposing it on them… ‘(Senior Manager in a Secondary School)

Young people often report a good recall of campaign events, clearly remembering the campaign messages and even still wearing the campaign materials. One young woman from who participated in the Prevention Practitioners project talked about the impact that the campaign was still having within the school a few months after the event, and that ‘a lot of people are still wearing them (white ribbons) now as well, in the assembly a few weeks ago when we let all the balloons off a lot of people were still wearing their white ribbons and loads of people have been wearing them now on t-shirts and stuff, so it gets the message about.’ (Young Person in a Secondary school) 

All the quotes in this section are from AVA research (2012)