Tell Us What You Would Do To End Violence Against Women

Tell Us What You Think

I got into an dialogue with a woman from Iran who works in government and at the university level in crime prevention in Tehran. She asked a number of people, including myself, “What should be done about violence against women, how should men be integrated into the education and what would you suggest for implementation initiatives in a very traditional society?”

I addressed the last part of the question regarding implementation (below). What would be your response to these questions?

These are questions with no easy answer. A multidisciplinary approach is needed. To answer your last question of what implementation is best in a traditional society, I think it starts with focusing on social norms at the community level. Understanding the way men, women, girls and boys view women/girls and the role of women/girls in society. For example, asking questions like: do women/girls deserve an education? If so, up to what level? What is the role of women in family? When should a woman be married? In a traditional society, it’s possible to receive very traditional answers to these questions. 

Empowerment programs for girls are wonderful, but if only one gender is engaged in the process the society can’t evolve. Therefore, the next step would be questioning and challenging those social norms. How does this happen? It starts with female and male community leaders – tribal leaders, spiritual leaders, council or political leaders and, of course, parents leading conversations in on this topics to help facilitate an evolution in thinking about the way women are perceived. It also means offering a different perspective on the role of women/girls in society.

The third step is changing those societal and social norms in an authentic and organic way via open dialogue, programming, education  with an understanding it may take years for these norms to change. Also, set up measurements and evaluations, to measure progress. Depending on the laws in the country, it would also mean advocating and collaborating with the government to change laws that no longer fit within the society.