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"Dare to say no to violence against women" campaign (Belgium)

September 20th 2012
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Organised by the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men
1) Brief description of the campaign

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2010, the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men distributed environmentally-friendly free t-shirts to the staff members of federal civil services and minister’s advisers. The action attempted to allow a maximum number of civil servants to show their involvement in combating violence against women on 25 November 2010.

The main message of the campaign was “Dare to say no to violence against women”.

The underlying messages were as follows:

  • Acts of violence harm personal integrity of victims and are a violation of basic human rights;
  • Intimate partner violence is a social phenomenon affecting the population as a whole, across all socioeconomic categories;
  • Men can also be victims, and women can also be perpetrators. However, the studies show that the majority of the victims of serious or very serious cases of violence in the private sphere are women;
  • The physical, psychological and social consequences are dramatic.

To support our communication with facts and figures, the institute used the results of their 2010 study The experiences of women and men with psychological, physical and sexual violence (Dark Number study).

2) General objectives of the campaign

The main objective of the campaign was to encourage victims to report acts of violence, press charges or contact support/aid groups.

3) Specific objectives of the campaign

Encourage men to participate in the fight against violence.

4) Target audiences (primary and secondary)

General audience: the male and female population.

Primary target group: female victims of violence.

Secondary target group: men and women (witnesses and perpetrators), as well as male victims.

Tertiary target group: the authorities, aid-to-victims organisations, partners.

5) Stakeholders involved and the difficulties encountered and surpassed while managining the relationship with them

The main stakeholders included men, provincial coordinators, partners in the National Action Plan to combat intimate partner violence, the federal public services, associations, the government (12 federal ministries participated, as well as 11 minister’s offices), etc. The institute received a lot of positive reactions. Several governmental departments informed them they were prepared to take part again the following year and were also willing to participate in other similar actions by the institute.

6) Resources and budget

The global budget was 81.000€. However, the institute did not use up its entire stock of t-shirts. The remaining ones were used for the 2011 campaign when self-defence and krav maga clubs were also targeted.
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7) Detailed description of the communication channels used and messages conveyed. How did theorganisers connect with their audiences? Possible pitfalls to be avoided.

A letter was sent to all the chairpersons of the federal public services and the minister’s offices, followed by an e-mail to those in charge of public relations in the federal public services and ministers’ offices. Later, texts were sent to the participants to help them inform their colleagues and stakeholders about the action via their intranets and websites.

A news item on the institute’s website was added two days beforehand, before the press conference by the minister for equality opportunities on the international day.

An internal message was sent to all the institute’s staff members to encourage them to participate in the event.

The institute prepared communication aids for the public services to inform their staff, consisting of an e-mail, an intranet news item and one for their websites.

A few days after the event a news item was published on the institute’s website to thank all participants.

8) Explanation of the mechanism put in place to evaluate and monitor the campaign

The institute used the the communication aids that were prepared to help the public service departments inform their staff, particularly those for the intranets.

Following an analysis of the media it appeared that 4 of them, among which 3 official ones, mentioned the campaign, 3 discussed the issue itself and the figures of our Dark Number study and 10 spoke about subjects related to violence against women and the international day, but without mentioning the institute.

This list is incomplete as the institute does not have the means to conduct a complete overview of the written and spoken press in Belgium.

The t-shirt campaign itself was mentioned only once. This could be explained by the fact that the institute was unable to provide the number of participating civil servants and neither could it propose journalists to visit a participating department.

The figures from the Dark Number study again succeeded in drawing the attention of the media despite the fact that the institute had already communicated them in the course of 2010. This shows the relevance of re-using research data in the context of a campaign, even if they have been communicated before.

9) Lessons learned and pitfalls to be avoided

The institute noticed that the media made mention of the i-* nternational day, so this issue seems to be very interesting for the press. However, in spite of its press statements the institute is rarely mentioned as a reference body. In addition, it noticed that figures by Vie Féminine and Eurostat are sometimes preferred to theirs. It is possible that journalists choose to mention associations instead of the institute because they often look for accounts by victims, which the organisation cannot offer them. Therefore, there is still a lot of work to raise the institute’s visibility, particularly by focusing attention on its competence in this field.

Weak points of the campaign:

  • The institute was unable to say how many civil servants wore the t-shirt on the day itself;
  • Some people (mainly from ministers’ offices) did not understood that the t-shirts were free;
  • The Ministry of Defence was interested, but had to remain in uniform.