Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is the most widespread form of abuse worldwide, affecting on average one third of all women globally in their lifetime. VAWG undermines the mental and physical health of women and girls, violates their human rights and can have a negative impact on long-term peace and stability. In line with its international and national commitments, preventing VAWG is a top priority for the UK Government and DFID.
Although the development community has long recognised the importance of attitudes, norms, and beliefs that justify violence and gender inequality in perpetuating violence against women and girls (VAWG), there has often been a lack of clarity about the definitions of and relationships between these constructs and the practical implications for programme design and evaluation. This Guidance Note therefore aims to clarify these constructs, summarise the role of social norms in sustaining harmful behaviours and contributing to VAWG, and provide practical guidance and advice for DFID advisors and programme managers on how to identify and address harmful social norms in the context of programming to prevent VAWG.