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Deep Dive: The RESPECT Framework

Image: WHO Indonesia/Alegra Wolter, RESPECT workshop.

Around the world, nearly 1 in 3 women 15 years and older have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence against women is preventable, and policy makers play a critical role to protect women. “RESPECT Women: Preventing violence against women,” is an evidence-based framework for policy makers and implementers about designing, planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating interventions and programmes on preventing and responding to violence against women. The framework was launched in 2019 by UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO) together with twelve other United Nations (UN) agencies.

“RESPECT” outlines a detailed set of action-oriented steps to support decision makers design programmes using seven strategies to prevent violence against women. Each letter of “RESPECT” represents a unique strategy aimed at a separate goal. The "RESPECT" framework acronym stands for: 

Relationship skills strengthened - The objective of this strategy is to improve interpersonal communication skills, conflict management, and decision-making among men, women, couples, and other family members. These strategies are aimed to address violence characterized by high conflict, unequal power dynamics, controlling behaviors or in which either partner holds attitudes or beliefs that condone violence within relationships.

Empowerment of women - The objective of this strategy is to build women’s and girls’ self-confidence and skills, particularly their negotiation skills, self-efficacy, and assertiveness. It also aims to increase women’s autonomy and reduce their financial dependence on men and other family members.

Services ensured - The objective of this strategy is to meet the needs of survivors of violence and seek to prevent further violence through the provision of essential services like police, legal, health and social services.

Poverty reduced -The objective of this strategy is to alleviate poverty through interventions targeted at women or the household, such as cash transfers, savings, microfinance loans, and labor force interventions. Such interventions may offer promising and cost-effective solutions to address violence against women, even when they do not target women specifically or have an explicit focus on preventing violence. 

Environments made safe - The objective of this strategy is to create safe environments including schools, workplaces and other public spaces, where women are free from the fear and experience of harassment and other forms of violence.

Child and adolescent abuse prevented - The objective of this strategy is to establish nurturing family relationships, prohibit corporal punishment, reduce harsh parenting practices and create positive parent-child relationships.

Transformed attitudes, beliefs, and norms - The objective of this strategy is to promote positive and egalitarian attitudes, beliefs and norms, challenge male power and privilege, female subordination and discrimination, and condemn the acceptability of violence against women.

Violence against women is preventable, and policy makers play a critical role to protect women. The RESPECT framework has been seen in workshops in several countries such as Bhutan, Nigeria, and Vietnam in 2022, and recently in Indonesia in September of 2023 (pictured above). 

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