What drives violence against women


Australian and international research and experience tells us that gender inequality is at the core of the problem.

Gender inequality is where women and men do not have equal social status, power, resources or opportunities, and their voices, ideas and work are not valued equally by society. Gender inequality provides the underlying conditions for violence against women.

Australia’s national framework for preventing violence against women and their children Change the story outlines the four gendered drivers that consistently predict higher rates of violence against women.

The four gendered drivers are:

1. Condoning of violence against women

For example, attitudes and social norms that minimise, excuse, victim-blame or justify violence against women.

2. Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence in public and private life

For example, ideas suggesting men naturally make better leaders, or that men should be the ‘head of the household’ and women should care for children.

3. Rigid gender stereotyping and dominant forms of masculinity

For example, the idea that men should like and do ‘masculine’ things, and that women should like and do ‘feminine’ things – and that men and women must play different roles in society.

4. Male peer relations and cultures of masculinity that emphasise aggression, dominance and control

For example, some men feeling that they need to put women down in order to prove themselves amongst their peers.

Other forms of inequality

Gender inequality is always influential as a driver of violence against women, but is not experienced in the same way by every woman. Other forms of discrimination and oppression can affect how gender inequality is expressed.

The way that other forms of inequality intersect with gender inequality helps explain the greater prevalence, severity and unique types of violence that some women experience.

Violence against women is preventable

Together, we can change the story...

Illustrated silhouettes of women on a green background
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By creating an Australia that respects, values, and treats women as equals in public and private life, we can see an end to violence against women.

How do we prevent violence against women?

Change the story identifies four essential actions that need to be progressed across the nation, in the places where people live, work and play:

  • Challenge condoning of violence against women.
  • Promote women’s independence and decision-making in public life and relationships.
  • Foster positive personal identities and challenge gender stereotypes and roles.
  • Strengthen positive, equal and respectful relations between and among women and men, girls and boys.

We all have a role to play to progress these actions – governments, schools and organisations, communities, adults and young people.

The messages of gender equality and respect need to be echoed and reinforced by all of us.

With coordinated and evidence-informed effort across Australia we can change the structures, norms and practices that drive violence against women.

Fortunately, there is already lots of great prevention work underway across diverse settings and locations and led by a large range of stakeholders.

This includes:

  • Implementing initiatives to improve workplace cultures and promote gender equality
  • Delivering whole-of-school respectful relationships education
  • Improving the quality of media reporting of violence against women
  • Supporting sporting organisations to model respect and equality.

Together, we can reinforce and strengthen the impact of these efforts.

For guidance on what you can do, read Working with young people to prevent violence against women.

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