Groundbreaking UN initiative prevents violence against women and girls across Asia-Pacific

5 March 2018
A girl at home in Jayapura, Indonesia. The Partners for Prevention initiative has brought families and communities together to prevent violence against women. Photo: UNFPA / Matthew Taylor

Landmark violence prevention initiative helps change the attitudes, actions and inequalities that fuel violence against women and girls in five Asia-Pacific nations.

Bangkok, Thailand – Partners for Prevention (P4P), a groundbreaking United Nations multi-country initiative to prevent violence against women, wrapped up today after ten years of work with youth, caregivers and community and religious leaders to tackle the roots of violence against women and girls.

In Asia and the Pacific, 15% to 68% of women suffer physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes at the hands of a partner, and worldwide, 1 in 3 women experience intimate partner violence in their lives.

Covering Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam, P4P worked through youth clubs, schools and universities, as well as in communities with high rates of violence. The initiative helped build respect and gender-equitable attitudes towards women and girls among boys and men in particular, and more widely among families and communities.

“Measuring violence that no longer happens will never be exact science,” says Michiyo Yamada, P4P’s Programme Manager, “but from our research, and from the 30,000 people we’ve reached, the message is crystal clear: if you work with men and boys, young people and their parents, violence prevention works.”

In Papua New Guinea, a nation with particularly high rates of violence against women and girls, among participants in the programme, violence between intimate partners fell by 10% in under just one year, and 17% less women reported experiencing intimate partner violence throughout the duration of the initiative. This, for many, is one striking example that points to ways forward as many countries are grappling with realizations about the scale of violence against women, following the revelations from the #MeToo movement that is crossing the globe.

Bringing together four UN agencies – the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme – P4P’s interactive workshops, role plays and training sessions helped participants develop the skills they need to change thinking and actions that accept or perpetuate violence against women: by resolving disputes peacefully, treating one another with patience and respect and building more peaceful and equal relationships.

P4P’s second phase was implemented in collaboration with governments, civil society and educational institutions, with generous support from the Government of Australia.

“Violence against women is a huge, often hidden tragedy that affects women everywhere,” notes Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Paul Robilliard. “Australia is committed to combating violence against women in all its forms, everywhere. To bring real, lasting change, prevention programmes that are based on solid evidence and tackle the root causes of violence are crucial.”

“P4P’s approach is noteworthy because it works from the ground up to first listen and understand, then engage communities through participatory and innovative approaches to end violence against women and girls.,” said Anna-Karin Jatfors, UN Women’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “This allowed participants to identify issues they felt were important in their community, based on their own experiences. P4P was successful in shaping critical thinking among participants to question harmful social norms about masculinities and gender stereotypes that allow violence to continue, and to begin adopting more equitable attitudes and behaviors. When this capacity is created in communities, the results of such interventions will be more sustainable.”

"It's crucial to establish positive social norms at a very early age," explained Bjorn Andersson, UNFPA Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. "This is why P4P has worked with community members, young people and their caregivers to promote respectful, non-violent relationships, to help them understand what gender equality truly means, why violence against women and girls is never acceptable, and how to build more peaceful and equal lives and communities. Ending violence against women and girls, and promoting gender equality, is essential if we are to achieve sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, which is the core of UNFPA's mission and work."

Local volunteers were key to P4P’s success, as Shalina Miah, Regional Manager, UNV Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific explained, “Volunteering is an opportunity for everybody, including marginalized groups, women and youth, to have their voice heard and their actions recognized. Volunteerism strengthens social cohesion and trust by promoting individual and collective action, leading to sustainable development for people by people. P4P has successfully leveraged the values of volunteerism and truly taken community-based approaches.”

Looking forward, the P4P team has worked to produce research, knowledge and data on violence prevention activities to support the five P4P countries in future efforts and to assist other countries in similar efforts in future.

“There is a pressing need for stronger data from a wider pool of sources to address violence against women and girls," said Valerie Cliff, Deputy Regional Director UNDP Asia-Pacific. "Partners for Prevention demonstrates how the use of good data can help to put an end to such violence, and be a blueprint for other prevention programmes in the region.”

“Although the programme is ending, positive results and capacities will be sustained through regional and national partners and volunteers in the community,” concluded Michiyo Yamada, P4P Programme Manager. “We hope that the lessons learned will be applied in the region - and beyond - to replicate and scale up primary prevention to change social norms to ensure women and girls can live free from violence and that, for men and boys, embracing and practicing the precepts of non-violence and gender equality become the most common and accepted forms of masculinity.”


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Contact information


Jennie Williams (

Matthew Taylor  (