Violence prevention work

Stopping men's violence against women requires increased and effective preventative work against violence. It is also the first objective of the Government's ten-year national strategy to prevent and combat men's violence against women.

A group of boys in a soccerteam, the coach in the background. One boy has put his arm around the shoulders of another boy.

A shift in perspective: from reactive to proactive

Society's interventions have historically focused on the consequences of violence, rather than on its causes. Sweden's ten-year national strategy for preventing and combating men's violence against women shows a desired shift in perspective, where greater focus is placed on prevention without lowering ambitions to support and protect victims of men’s violence 

For this shift to succeed, men and boys need to be involved in changing the norms that justify the range of violence that affects women, children, other men and non-binary people. But notions of what men and boys are, and should be, are kept alive by everyone. Therefore, violence prevention interventions need to address everyone, regardless of gender.

Gender perspective on violence more effective

The WHO shows that violence prevention with a critical approach to how gender norms are created is more effective than interventions that do not have a gender perspective. A gender transformative approach means changing and broadening norms related to gender and sexuality. In this way, we can challenge harmful and limiting ideas related to masculinity and femininity, which has an impact on stopping violence.

Violence can be prevented. This is not an article of faith, but a statement based on evidence.

- WHO (2010) Violence prevention: the evidence

Gender transformative work needs to take place in locations that bring boys and young men together, such as football clubs, leisure activities and friend groups. Effective violence prevention work is more powerful in a group context than at the individual level. Men and boys as a group need to reflect together on expected gender roles and social norms that enable violence. 

The gender transformative work contributes to broadening the notion of gender as two static binary divisions and includes LGBTQI people. Violence prevention work needs to include as many as possible who could change social norms and help disrupt the normalisation of violence in everyday life. By including more categories than gender, it makes visible how different power orders provide different conditions and opportunities for people. This is called an intersectional perspective.

Four cornerstones for preventing violence

In your work to prevent violence, you should start from the following four starting points: 

Istanbul Convention

The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding agreement regarding violence against women and girls in Europe. It describes the elimination of violence against women and girls as essential to achieving gender equality and calls on states to take comprehensive action. Sweden ratified the Convention in 2014, and in 2019 we received 41 recommendations from the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), which is the Convention's review body. In 2022, the Government will report on these recommendations.

Sweden's gender-equality policy

The overarching goal of gender equality policy is for women and men to have equal power to shape society and their own lives. Sweden also has six subgoals that set the focus and direction for gender equality policy.

  1. An equal distribution of power and influence. Women and men shall have equal rights and opportunities to be active citizens and to shape the conditions for decision-making
  2. Economic equality. Women and men shall have equal opportunities and conditions for paid work that provides lifelong economic independence.
  3. Equal education. Women and men, girls and boys, shall have the same opportunities and conditions in terms of education, study choices and personal development.
  4. Equal distribution of unpaid domestic and care work. Women and men shall take equal responsibility for domestic work and have the opportunity to provide and receive care on equal terms.
  5. Equal health. Women and men, girls and boys, shall have the same conditions for good health, and be offered health care on equal terms.
  6. Men's violence against women must end. Women and men, girls and boys, shall have the same right and opportunity to bodily integrity.

National strategy against men's violence against women and honour-related violence and oppression

Sweden has a ten-year national strategy to strengthen the conditions for achieving the gender-equality policy subgoal of ending men's violence against women.

The strategy has four objectives:

  • Increased and effective prevention of violence.
  • Improved detection of violence, and stronger protection and support for women and children affected by violence.
  • More effective law enforcement.
  • Improved knowledge and method development.

The strategy highlights two factors in particular: the importance of prevention, and the involvement and responsibility of men and boys in the work against violence.

The national strategy covers all aspects of LGBTQI persons’ exposure to violence, honour-related violence and oppression, and prostitution and trafficking for sexual purposes. It also highlights the particular vulnerability of certain groups, such as people with disabilities, and the violence suffered by young people.

Gender mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming is a strategic tool for achieving a gender equal society. The approach means that a gender equality perspective is included in all decisions, at all levels and at all stages of a process. Gender equality work becomes part of the regular work and shall be carried out by all employees in an organisation.

The violence-prevention handbook Inget att vänta på (Nothing to wait for)

Inget att vänta på is a handbook in Swedish that brings together knowledge on violence, gender and prevention in one place. It provides concrete guidance regarding how to implement systematic and knowledge-based violence-prevention work in five steps.

5 steps for violence prevention – a summary of the handbook in English


Violence prevention work

Publication date: 9 June 2021

Last updated: 13 June 2024