Communications and social marketing campaigns can be used to raise awareness of violence against women and challenge harmful attitudes and behaviours. A variety of media and popular entertainment channels can be used, including television, radio, print, online media and social media.
Strategies should be based on rigorous research and testing with relevant audiences to ensure effectiveness and avoid unintended consequences, such as reinforcing stereotypes. They should have simple and consistent key messages, with tailored messages for specific target audiences.
Experience from communications initiatives on other topics show that communications, alone, have limited impact, but can be powerful when undertaken as part of broader, multi-technique campaigns.
Types of campaigns and social marketing activity
Sustained multi-media campaigns
Challenge attitudes and norms that condone violence or promote gender inequality using radio, television, billboards or other channels to ‘saturate’ the community.
Bring together prevention practitioners and service providers to advocate for reform to policy and legislation to address structural, society-level barriers to gender equality.
Encourage young people to discuss violence and promote gender equality through use of social media or television, alongside a complementary education program that reinforces key messages.
Engage arts organisations to find creative platforms to promote messages on ending violence against women.
Good practice principles
- Avoid single component awareness-raising strategies, which are ineffective in shifting complex social norms.
- If the campaign is targeted at the local community level, assess local experiences and needs of the community or setting you are working in before developing the key messages of the campaign. Test these messages again with your target audience before finalising them.
- Devise campaigns with multiple components, including social media, posters and pamphlets, along with traditional media, such as radio, newspapers and television.
- Develop key messages that are simple, strong and consistent, and address the drivers of violence against women.
- Tailor messages for specific audiences and channels.
- Involve well-known leaders from a wide range of groups in the target community to appeal to a broader audience, and to publicly role model the key messages of the campaign.
- Brief relevant support services so they have an opportunity to plan responses to increased demand as a result of a communications or marketing campaign, particularly in localised areas.
- Be aware of potential backlash or other negative consequences that the campaign may have.
- Develop positive and constructive violence prevention campaigns, which use inclusive images and language. This might include positive images of women with disabilities, Aboriginal women and older women, and diverse depictions of healthy relationships, families and communities.
Developing a media and communications plan
- A guide to creating evidence-based communications
A Women's Health in the North's resource on applying a gender impact assessment to communications; providing accurate, evidence-based information about violence against women; and promoting equality, safety and respect for women and girls in day-to-day communications work.
Successful campaigns examples
A campaign to raise awareness of non-physical abuse
The No Excuse for Abuse campaign aims to raise awareness of non-physical abuse against women.
Social media tiles for communications based on Change the story
A collection of social media tiles developed by Our Watch for the 2021 '16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence' campaign, based on the updated edition of Change the story.