Learning from practice: Resistance and backlash to preventing violence against women and girls 

cover image resistance

Civil society organizations (CSOs) working to end violence against women face numerous contextual challenges and resistance in the course of their work at multiple levels. Resistance can manifest itself as positive resistance, such as support for progressive and feminist policies and against incumbent powers that seek to preserve the gender-unequal status quo. Negative resistance is that which is expressed against progressive social change and against prevention work. Resistance to the work that seeks to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) is quite common. When asked, most practitioners can identify some form of resistance in their day-to-day experiences of working in this space: institutional inertia, denial of support for feminist work, pushback on what are considered progressive feminist agendas, attacks on civil society spaces, or even the re-emergence of resistance because of shifting political agendas.

This synthesis review draws out some cross-cutting best practices, challenges and lessons from practice shared by CSOs on how they have managed resistance in their specific contexts and interventions. Drawing on the experiences of eight civil society organizations in different countries and territories, the review: 

  • showcases the unique contributions of different types and sizes of organizations, from small locally based youth groups to large international human rights organizations; 
  • highlights diverse forms, objectives, durations, intensities and participants of trainings for VAWG prevention in different social contexts; and
  • provides practical tips and recommendations for those leveraging trainings within their prevention interventions, i.e. for practitioners, researchers and for donors. 

This review is part of a Prevention Series.

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Resource type(s): Learning
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