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Every man can help to reduce violence against women and girls

Every man can help to reduce violence against women and girls

To this day, women’s safety still falls on women’s shoulders. This needs to change.

Working with the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) Magpie has launched Every Man Can, a new campaign to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls. While this work is aimed at the region’s men, campaign content was co-designed with an Independent Advisory Group on tackling Violence Against Women and Girls.

Our approach

When Magpie reviewed the creative that has been produced in a similar campaign space, we identified that there was an opportunity to produce a new, more supportive voice to the conversation.

A lot of past campaigns we looked at focus on the violent, dark and intimidating side of violence against women and girls. They point the finger and tell people about the problem without showing how they can make a positive difference.

Studies of marketing and social psychology going back decades show that campaigns that point to errors or character flaws in their target audience tend to trigger denial. They create stigmas. And they stoke frustration, especially when people feel both under attack and unable to change their behaviour.

These effects can cause men to angrily resist change. Studies have found that these campaigns can even lead to a sense amongst perpetrators that their behaviour is acceptable.

Some of these campaigns have undoubtedly broken the silence around the issue, but with “no intention of having a long conversation around it.” (1)

Role models

While most existing campaigns focus on men being told what not to do, we decided to focus on the positive actions men can take to support women and girls. We wanted to highlight the healthy behaviour men can exhibit to treat women and girls with respect and stand alongside them against gendered violence and abuse.

We aimed to avoid scare tactics, avoid moralistic messages and present healthy social norms already existing among men in South Yorkshire. We also wanted to avoid making all men feel like perpetrators, and we didn’t want women to feel the campaign minimises the danger, violence, and abuse they face.

We needed to avoid creating a campaign where men are portrayed as the protectors of women. We were determined to use a group of real South Yorkshire men who represented the diversity of the region. It was important to communicate a ‘sense of place’ – South Yorkshire residents should be able to see themselves in the men featured in the campaign. 

They have taken a leading role as the voices and faces of the campaign.

Every Man Can Campaign video

Starting a conversation

The creative acts as a launchpad for conversations about the day-to-day behaviours that make women feel unsafe and uncomfortable. 

The name ‘Every Man Can’ and identity for the campaign is bold, empowering and positive. It’s important that the name engages with the audience and inspires positive action.

The campaign name uses a hashtag to emphasise that one of the aims of the campaign is to encourage conversations between men.

Six key actions

After an extensive consultation process with key groups in the region, we distilled the campaign messaging and created six key actions that all men can take to support women and girls and help stop violence. 

We wanted to make the messaging feel accessible, avoiding negative language but remaining true to the intent of the campaign.

The launch

Violence Against Women and Girls is an incredibly important issue, which can only be tackled both through support for victims and survivors, and through bringing about long-term changes in social norms and behaviours…. By promoting positive male role models and behaviours, we hope that this campaign can generate momentum behind this issue, and help to shift the longstanding social attitudes which contribute to Violence Against Women and Girls

Graham Jones, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit

The campaign launch was held at Liberty Church in Rotherham. Speakers included the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, Head of the VRU, Graham Jones, and the team from Magpie. Attendees came from organisations across South Yorkshire, including community and third sector organisations, and public services such as South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

For the last few years Violence Against Women and Girls has been at the centre of our concerns in South Yorkshire… The new campaign will help men to see what respectful attitudes and behaviours look like.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner

We created a campaign toolkit for the South Yorkshire VRU to roll out the Every Man Can campaign for the next three years.


(1) Dr. Jorge M. Agüero, Associate Professor of Economics at El Instituto: The Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies of the University of Connecticut

(2) Professor Nicole Westmarland. Director of Durham University’s Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse

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