Connecting the dots – developing an understanding and response to the intersections between violence against women and violence against children

Violence against women (VAW) and violence against children (VAC) co-occur, share common risk factors, lead to similar health outcomes, and because they occur in the same family, have implications for intergenerational transmission. VAW and VAC have shared risk factors which include family conflict, poverty, alcohol and substance abuse, patriarchy within the family and in society at large. In addition, a weak culture of law enforcement, rapid urbanisation, inadequate housing and poor education outcomes further contribute to social dynamics that fuel violence generally.

It has been shown that social norms that justify the use of violence against women and children across different settings underpin both VAW and VAC. In South Africa, as elsewhere, the prevailing social and cultural context promotes a gendered hierarchy of men in a superior position to women and children, that provides the space in which men’s violence towards women and children is considerably tolerated.

Programmes, research and policies on VAW and VAC have historically been operating in silos. Globally there has been increasing recognition that there is an urgent need to bridge this divide. There have also been calls for closer collaboration between the two fields to help countries achieve and measure progress towards ending both forms of violence, in particular, as a commitment to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and targets.

The Project seeks to:

  • Facilitate co-ordination and shared learning between the VAW and VAC sectors in South Africa with the possibility of extending into the East and Southern Africa region. This activity aims to work towards building an evidence hub to facilitate communication and learning between partners in the region.
    • A repository of articles and reports has been developed that houses a curated list of publications.
    • An online five part webinar series was hosted in September-October 2020 and brought together participants’ from different sectors globally, in particular in Africa to strengthen our understanding of how violence against women and children intersect.
  • Contribute to extending our knowledge and deepen our understanding of the interconnections of VAW and VAC in the South African setting.
    • A scoping review of published and grey literature to broaden our understanding of the links between VAC and VAW and a review of promising VAW and VAC violence prevention interventions for the Africa region has been generated [click here for a link to the publication]. This will contribute to the dialogue and discussion (mentioned above).
    • Primary, qualitative research is currently underway in partnership with MOSAIC to develop an understanding of shared and contrasting community perceptions of VAW and VAC and how families commonly experience intersecting forms of VAW and VAC in their daily lives.
    • In addition to collaborating with MOSAIC (community-based organisation providing support to men, women and youth in various communities in the Western Cape), the project established a community advisory board. MOSAIC and the community advisory board participated in the development of the research proposal and continue to provide support and guidance in the implementation of the research project.
  • The findings from both the intersections research project and the scoping review will be used to design an intervention to be piloted and tested in a community context in partnership with a community-based women’s organisation.


This project is funded by the Ford Foundation


Ford Foundation


For queries about this project contact: Prof Shanaaz Mathews  or Lauren October.