Empowering girls and women: The role of health and education in preventing violence

Topic Update

How ICT can help #EndViolence

A Twitter hashtag helps to provide a summary of current postings on the topic (#EndViolence).

While global agencies and local NGOs are deeply involved in finding ways to reduce violence in all its forms, we reviewed some actions that individuals and local organisations can take to help to reduce the scourge of violence.


An article titled: “Can an App Stop Domestic Violence?” lists apps that can help people identify potentially dangerous relationships and provide suggestions on what to do. An example is the My Plan App, which helps women and their friends to determine if a relationship is unsafe and create an action plan to leave safely.

Another app called “Circle of 6” is for anyone who may need help. It requires some preparation for the time when it is needed, but can then be used to automatically message a friend to help. The app will send a message asking a friend to provide ‘an interruption’ or call for help.


If the situation has progressed past a stage where an ‘interruption’ is not enough of an intervention when a crisis is already taking place, a reporting app is needed. An app like “Bull Horns” can help to alert both a friend or family member, and the authorities at the same time. This app puts a Panic Button on your smartphone that can silently call and SMS your emergency contacts. It can also be connected to a security company to see your location at the time of activation so they can get help to you even if you cannot speak or are on the move. You can also receive alerts of local crimes and suspicious activities in your neighbourhood.

Systematic reporting

Local authorities, neighbourhood watches and security companies can establish systems to enable the reporting of crime and violence via a smart phone app. The Insight Incident Reporting, Investigation and Management System is one such system, that once implemented by a local authority or organisation, provides for reporting on, responding to and investigating of incidents. Victims of violence may report crimes using such a system via their smartphone without having to wait to speak to a person.

More resources

More examples of useful apps can be found provided by The Asia Foundation.

Background Information

The Health and Education Units at the Commonwealth Secretariat held a panel discussion looking at the evidence for cross-sector policy for reducing all forms of Violence on 1 March 2017. The panel discussion was part of the diverse Commonwealth activities scheduled for the month of March, dedicated to Peace in the home: Efforts to end Violence against Women a, Men and Children. 


Slides from the presentations

We know that ‘countries with the highest levels of gender inequities have higher levels of violence. While gender inequities persist and are pervasive in all societies they are socially formed and entirely changeable with progress seen in many counties across the last century. The empowerment of women can be supported by a range of different developments, from legislative change to technological development often including health and education focused interventions. It is crucial to promote policies that encourage equality and inclusion.

For example:

  • Policies and programmes that close gaps in education and skills, and that support female economic participation; including those that support pay equity and allow women and men to take on equal care responsibilities for dependants.
  • Investment in sexual and reproductive health services (to achieve universal coverage of rights).

This should be underpinned by the development (and appropriate enforcement) of legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Women should be empowered to challenge gender inequity and actively engaged in approaches that raise awareness and enforcement of their legal rights. Legislation and policing alone may not be enough to tackle some forms of abuse faced by women, such as female genital mutilation or cutting.  Community-level interventions may be required to challenge deep-rooted gender stereotypes.’

The Commonwealth in partnership with Public Health Wales have developed an ‘Evidence based violence prevention – a plan for action’ which will also be made available on the hub.

Below are links to two of the presentations given at the panel discussion.

Dr Joanna Nurse – Commonwealth Secretariat

Professor Mark Bellis’ -Public Health Wales

Audio of the panel discussion.