Transformative Marketing: Addressing Violence Against Women Through Behaviour Change

In this blog, we’ll outline the behaviours that can contribute towards violence against women, and explore how behaviour change marketing can catalyse a transformation of the societal norms that perpetuate violence.

Violence against women and girls impacts communities all over the world; it is a pervasive problem that transcends geographical boundaries, cultural differences, and socioeconomic status.

Tackling such an intensely ingrained issue requires a multifaceted approach that works to change the complex beliefs and behaviours that drive perpetrators to commit violence against women.

“Globally, an estimated 736 million women—almost one in three—have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life “  UN Women

In this blog, we’ll outline the behaviours that can contribute towards violence against women, and explore how behaviour change marketing can catalyse a transformation of the societal norms that perpetuate violence, drive positive change in the behaviour of perpetrators, and ultimately foster a society that is free from violence against women and girls, using the COM-B model as our guide.

The COM-B Model 

The COM-B model, a framework for understanding behaviour and how to change it, consists of three essential components: Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation. To effectively address violence against women, it is crucial to analyse the behaviours of both perpetrators and the broader society that may be contributing to or condoning such actions.

The Behaviours Behind the Violence

Violence against women is often rooted in the distorted beliefs and attitudes held by perpetrators. To effectively combat this issue, it is crucial to first understand the behaviours exhibited by those who commit violence against women and girls.

Control: Perpetrators often seek to exert control and dominance over their victims. This may manifest in attempts to regulate every aspect of the victim’s life, from their social interactions to their personal choices.

Entitlement: Behaviours of entitlement are prevalent among perpetrators, who believe they have the right to control and dictate the lives of women. This entitlement often stems from societal norms that reinforce traditional gender roles.

Objectification: Objectification is something that’s become incredibly common in society, and can really be underestimated when it comes to its involvement in violence against women and girls. It reduces women to mere objects, stripping away their humanity and autonomy. This dehumanisation contributes to an environment where violence against women is normalised.

Normalisation of Violence: In some societies, violence against women is deeply ingrained and normalised. This normalisation perpetuates a cycle where individuals may not recognise the severity of their actions or may believe such behaviour is acceptable.

Individuals who commit acts of violence against women may lack the necessary skills to navigate conflicts or express themselves in a healthy manner, resorting to violence as a coping mechanism. Behaviour change marketing can play a pivotal role in enhancing the capability for change.

Through the use of physical and psychological behavioural change intervention functions, such as modelling and environmental re-structuring, we can challenge toxic masculinity and promote emotional intelligence.


Opportunity: Challenging Societal Norms

Behaviour change marketing can often provide those using harmful behaviours with the opportunity for self-improvement. This can be both the physical opportunity, and the social opportunity to address their behaviours and put actions in place to change.

Providing the physical opportunity to change can often consist of signposting relevant support services such as counselling and emotional management. Alongside this, providing resources and education such as self-help guides and information on building healthy relationships can help provide people with further opportunity to change.

Something that goes hand in hand with physical opportunity, is social opportunity. Society plays a significant role in either enabling or discouraging violence against women and girls. Social norms that trivialise or normalise such behaviour subsequently motivate perpetrators to act without fear of consequences. Behaviour change marketing can intervene by challenging norms and promoting healthier behaviour.

A behaviour change campaign can also promote narratives that redefine masculinity, emphasising the importance of communication, empathy, and mutual consent. By partnering with organisations, community leaders, and educational institutions, we can create opportunities for open discussions about gender roles and stereotypes. This not only raises awareness of the issue but also contributes to shifting societal expectations, making it less likely for violence against women to be tolerated.

Motivation: With Optimism Comes Hope

Providing those that use violence against women and girls with the motivation to use healthier behaviours, can be key to driving real, lasting change.

We can develop campaigns that provide people with the motivation they need for self-improvement, through altering any beliefs in their capabilities to change. Encouraging optimism and goals can also create a more positive outlook on their future, bringing with it the motivation to improve.

Often, highlighting rewards and incentives can also lead to a drive in motivation, along with discussing perceived consequences and repercussions from not changing their behaviour, whilst de-bunking myths around what will happen if they reach out for support to change.

By targeting specific demographics prone to engaging in harmful actions, we can provide individuals with the motivation to deal with interpersonal challenges in a healthier way, without resorting to violence.


Behaviour Change Strategies

Challenging Norms Through Education

Behaviour change marketing is a powerful tool for challenging and reshaping societal norms. Informative campaigns can enlighten the public on the detrimental impact of violence against women and girls, debunk myths surrounding gender roles, and promote healthy relationships built on respect and equality.

Implementing comprehensive educational programs in schools can teach children about healthy relationships, consent, and conflict resolution. By instilling positive values at an early age, we can positively shape future behaviours and contribute to a cultural shift away from violence against women.

Community Engagement

Partnering with local communities is key to creating effective, targeted awareness campaigns that challenge harmful stereotypes and encourage bystander intervention. When we are able to mobilise and empower entire communities by addressing their specific issues and needs, we can create supportive environments across the country that stand together to reject violence against women and girls. 

Promoting Positive Role Models

Influential figures, whether in the media or within communities, play a crucial role in shaping societal norms. Behaviour change marketing can highlight positive role models who embody respect, equality, and healthy relationships, serving as examples for others to follow.

Leveraging Social Media

Social media platforms are incredibly powerful tools for reaching target audiences, disseminating information and shaping public opinion. Behaviour change marketing can utilise these platforms to launch campaigns that raise awareness, challenge harmful stereotypes, and encourage open conversations about violence against women and girls.


Addressing Root Causes

Behaviour change marketing should not just address issues at surface level, but also delve deep into the root causes and psychology behind harmful behaviours. By addressing issues such as toxic masculinity, gender inequality, and social norms that perpetuate violence, behaviour change marketing can catalyse lasting systemic change that trickles down to future generations and protects women and girls for years to come.


Successfully reducing violence against women and girls requires a comprehensive and sustained effort rooted in a firm understanding of psychology and the science behind behaviour change. By utilising this knowledge to challenge societal norms, promote positive role models, engage communities, and address root causes, behaviour change marketing can contribute to transforming the very fabric of our society for good.

At MacMartin, we believe that we all have a duty to work towards a world where violence against women is not only condemned but is a relic of the past, replaced by a culture of respect, equality, and empathy for all. Through strategic and impactful behaviour change initiatives, we can achieve this goal together and pave the way for a safer and more inclusive future for women and girls worldwide.

If your organisation also has a mission, get in touch with us today to discuss how behaviour change could drive the transformation that you want to see in the world.