News and events
Today we release New broadcast media guidelines to help change attitudes to violence against women and girls by supporting journalists to cover stories of violence against women responsibly.
The broadcast guidelines build on our existing media guidelines for print journalism with input from Bauer Media to adapt them for broadcast.
The media can raise awareness and improve attitudes to violence against women, but it can also perpetuate myths and misconceptions about the violence and abuse women experience. Our guidelines provide best practice language as well as guidance on how to frame stories to condemn violence, ensure blame is placed on perpetrators, and survivors are protected.
We offer a range of resources to journalists as part of our work to end men’s violence against women. We host the Write to End Violence Against Women awards in partnership with the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition to recognise journalists who bring stories of gender inequality and violence against women and girls to light in a responsible, accurate, and sensitive way.
Rachel Adamson, Zero Tolerance’s Co-Director, said:
"The media has a vital role in ending men’s violence against women and girls. It is therefore hugely disappointing to continually see and hear harmful reporting which reinforces attitudes that lead to violence against women. We urgently need reporting that recognises and understands this violence and we need an end to coverage that sympathises with perpetrators and blames victims.
We publish these guidelines to support those journalists who wish to challenge men’s violence against women in our society and thank them for making a difference. We will keep working until all journalists adopt this practice.”
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:
“By raising awareness of abuse and its root causes, journalists have a hugely important role in shifting victim-blaming attitudes and beliefs that violence against women and girls is ‘normal’ or should be tolerated.
Despite violence against women remaining firmly on the agenda, we’re still seeing a worrying amount of misleading and harmful media narratives that trivialise and excuse men's violence against women, as well as racist tropes about which victims are seen as credible and deserving of our attention. We support these guidelines which will help put an end to the media’s role in perpetuating myths and misconceptions about victims and the violence women experience.”
Our office is closed and staff are working from home due to COVID-19.
Our response to the Behaviour in Scottish Schools: Research Report 2023 and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills' ministerial statement on behaviour in Scottish schools 29/11/23
We’re pleased the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the Behaviour in Scottish Schools: Research Report 2023 acknowledge misogyny as a key issue in our schools which they commit to tackling. This report affirms what other research has found: sexism, misogyny and gender-based violence are problems in schools in Scotland. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government on the announced National Action Plan to tackle this issue.
The Gender-Based Violence in Schools Framework is an excellent starting point for this work; however - as a non-statutory guidance document it will not alone solve the problem of violence and misogyny in schools. We therefore look to the Action Plan to provide solutions to harmful masculinity, misogyny and violence against girls, and provide guidance on accountability and consequences for those causing harm which realise survivors’ rights. We are happy to support the Scottish Government by providing Zero Tolerance’s 30-years of expertise on preventing violence against women and girls as they develop this work.
“Girls urgently need the Scottish Government to protect their right to safety and freedom from harm. Boy’s violence against girls is flourishing in schools and current approaches are not working. We’re eager to work with the government on this issue so both teachers and children can focus on learning.” — Laura Tomson, Co-director Zero Tolerance
We have five asks of the Scottish Government:
Include girls in the National Action Plan
We are glad to hear the Cabinet Secretary, Jenny Gilruth, state that the National Action Plan will include pupils. We are disappointed that children and young people were excluded from the Behaviour in Scottish Schools research. Girls experience misogyny and violence from boys at school, which affects their ability to focus on learning. To end misogyny and boy’s violence in schools, we must listen to girls’ experiences to accurately understand the problem, and work with them directly on solutions.
Tackle the root cause
The Cabinet Secretary is correct in her assertion that neither the pandemic nor extremist misogynistic social media influencers are causes, but rather, exacerbate boys' violence and misogyny. It is crucial that work to eliminate these issues focuses on tackling the root cause of gender inequality and the gender stereotypes and unhealthy masculinities that underpin it.
By focusing on improving gender equality in schools, we can tackle misogyny and other forms of violence, educational attainment, truancy, bullying, and absence.
Provide detailed guidance on restorative approaches to boys’ violence against girls
To be effective, the action plan must provide procedures for restorative approaches to boy’s violence against girls. We agree with the concerns raised by teachers in the research, which were echoed at the summit, questioning the effectiveness of restorative approaches due to a lack of support to ensure accountability is part of the process.
We know these approaches can be effective, but without accountability and consequences, restorative approaches to boys’ violence against girls re-traumatises survivors, tells them they don’t matter, and effectively gives boys permission to repeat their behaviour. Restorative approaches need resources, expertise, and understanding of gendered power, which currently goes beyond what teachers can provide. Teachers urgently need guidance on this.
Gather disaggregated data
To monitor misogyny in schools and evaluate the effectiveness of the National Action Plan, it is vital that future research measures women teachers’ and girls’ experiences of violence and misogyny. The research must further disaggregate types of violence to help us understand its gendered element. For example, ‘verbal abuse’ and ‘physical violence’ must be broken down into categories such as misogyny, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. The Scottish Government must also gather equalities demographic data to understand how diverse communities of people with protected characteristics experience violence.
Reconvene and Resource the Gender Equality Taskforce
In addition to the national action plan, we ask the Scottish Government to reconvene and properly resource the Gender Equality Taskforce on Education and Learning, which is supposed to be chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. This has not met formally since August 2022 and has failed to make any significant progress since its inception in 2019. The issue of boys’ violence against girls and misogyny in schools makes it clear that this taskforce is needed. We hope to see the Taskforce’s work integrated with the Education Reform process, which creates a unique opportunity for transformational change in Scottish education, so that we can get it right for every child, including girls.
Recognising Excellence in Journalism: WEVAW Awards Ceremony Shines a Spotlight on Advocates Against Gender Inequality and VAWG
In a celebration of journalistic excellence and dedication to fostering awareness, the upcoming WEVAW Awards Ceremony is set to honour outstanding individuals who have made substantial contributions to combating gender inequality and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in the UK.
Date: Tuesday, 28th November 2023
Time: 16:30 – 18:00
At our online awards ceremony we will not only announce the winners but we will also hear from a range of speakers on how the media can play an important role in shaping a world free from violence against women and girls.
The event will feature contributions from our excellent panel of judges: Afua Hirsch an award-winning writer, journalist, former barrister and filmmaker, Alice Gould, Head of Complaints at IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation),Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana, Chief Executive of IMPRESS (The Independent Monitor of the Press) and Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales.
We will also hear from Jemima Olchawski, CEO of the Fawcett Society and Rasheda Malcolm, an author and the co-founder and CEO of The WILDE Foundation, who will share their success story related to an Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) complaint. Their journey exemplifies the impact of collective efforts in challenging media norms and fostering accountability.
Visual artist, writer, long time VAWG campaigner and survivor Tashmia Owen will shed light on the influence of media reporting on survivors. Her perspective promises to provide a unique and valuable insight into the challenges survivors face beyond the immediate aftermath of violence.
The WEVAW Awards Ceremony serves as a platform not only to acknowledge excellence in journalism but also to inspire a collective commitment to challenging gender inequality and ending violence against women and girls. Attendees can expect an engaging and informative session that celebrates those who are passionate about championing change and contributing to a safer world for all.
To secure your spot at this event, register through the Eventbrite link. Join us on November 28th as we celebrate the power of media to drive positive change and create a future free from violence against women and girls.
Alice Gould, Head of Complaints at Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)
Alice joined IPSO as a Complaints Officer in 2019 and took on the joint role of Head of Complaints in 2023. Prior to joining IPSO, Alice has had an international career, working at non-governmental organisations in the US and the Republic of Georgia to promote human rights, as well as spending a year teaching English in China.
She holds a master’s degree in Human Rights from the Global Campus of Human Rights and an undergraduate degree in Law with European Law from the University of Nottingham.
In her four years at IPSO, Alice has personally investigated more than 250 complaints. Her proudest achievement during her time with the regulator has been supporting people at difficult times through the use of privacy notices, which protect vulnerable individuals against press intrusion during moments of crisis.
Afua Hirsch, an award-winning writer, journalist, former barrister and filmmaker
Afua is known for storytelling on culture, identity and social justice. She presents flagship BBC documentary series Africa Rising, Enslaved, a 6-part series about the transatlantic slave trade with Samuel L Jackson, and podcasts, through the production company she founded Born in Me Productions. Afua’s book Decolonising My Body blends memoir and narrative non-fiction to examine beauty, rituals and ancestry as an approach to radical justice. Her previous books include the bestselling Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging (2018) winner of the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, Equal To Everything (2019), a bestselling book about the UK Supreme Court, Empire: Look Again (2021) published by Tate. Afua is a professor of Journalism at the University of Southern California, a long time journalist and contributor to publications including The Guardian Newspaper, The New York Times, American and British Vogue, where she is an associate editor, and has also practised law as a barrister.
Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales
Nicole Jacobs was appointed in 2019 as the first Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales. The Commissioner’s powers came into force in 2021, and in September 2022, the Commissioner was reappointed for a further three years. Nicole has dedicated her career to supporting victims and survivors and has nearly 30 years’ experience as a frontline worker and in domestic abuse policy and intervention.
Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana, Chief Executive of IMPRESS
Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana is the Chief Executive of Impress, the UK’s only independent press regulator and a champion of news that can be trusted. Lexie is a New Zealand qualified barrister and solicitor who has worked in all forms of media regulation in the UK and New Zealand in investigations, research and semi-judicial capacity.
Rasheda Malcolm, author and co-founder and CEO of The WILDE Foundation
The WILDE Foundation (WILDE is an acronym for Women In Literature Development Empowerment) is a women’s and girls’ charity that evolves victims and survivors into INFLUENCERS by providing a creative space that enables and empowers women to express themselves by scribing their stories, poems and spoken words that one day could become another woman’s survival guide.
Tashmia Owen, a visual artist, writer, and long time VAWG campaigner and community builder.
Tashmia works with young people in vulnerable communities and schools, pushing for better sex education and mental health in her community. Tashmia speaks regularly at the WOW festival and other events regarding the barriers women from minoritised groups face in reporting violence and receiving medical care, sharing her experiences through two years of cancer treatment. She has been involved in titles from HuffPost, Media Diversified, Sister-Hood to Gal-Dem giving interviews & writing articles, advocating for structural change to institutional frameworks in favour of equity.
Jemima Olchawski, CEO of the Fawcett Society
She is a social policy expert with 15 years' experience working on issues around social justice and women’s rights. Her career has spanned national charities, local government and a think tank, working to tackle inequalities and improve life chances. Jemima was previously CEO for Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk. There she led campaigns on supporting survivors of abuse, gendered responses to women’s mental health and the connections between violence against women and girls and contact with the criminal justice system. She was previously Head of Policy and Insight at the Fawcett Society where she led projects such as Sex and Power, Strategies for Success and work on Gender Pay Gap reporting. She has also held roles at the London Borough of Newham and the Fabian Society.
Rachel Adamson, Co-director of Zero Tolerance
Rachel joined Zero Tolerance as co-director in 2016 where she oversees campaigns, communications and finance. She also works at the Scottish Funding Council on policy within Scottish universities and colleges. Prior to her current roles, she had equality and diversity related roles in the public sector and volunteered with national and international charities on LGBTI and women’s rights and equality. In 2015 she completed a masters in gender studies and in 2018 she became a mum.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW)
Andrea leads EVAW’s work campaigning to end violence against women and girls in all its forms. Previously, Andrea was EVAW’s Head of Public Affairs, leading the organisation’s work influencing legislation and policy across multiple government departments to improve responses to VAWG. Andrea’s expertise and deep commitment have been significant in securing critical impact in these areas. Andrea brings a wealth of experience and expertise having also previously campaigned on issues including child trafficking and modern slavery and spent more than a decade working for Members of Parliament.
Event - We Play Festival - Gender diversity in early childhood
Wednesday 27 September, 17:00 -17:45
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh
Join Shaddai Tembo (The Open University)and Jo Zawadzka (Zero Tolerance) to reflect on the gendered experiences of early childhood, and consider how we (as parents, practitioners, and public space creators) can support young children to explore and feel at ease on their journeys in and around gender.