Equally Safe 2023 - preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls: strategy

The Scottish Government and COSLA's commitment to preventing and eradicating this violence and addressing the underlying attitudes and systems that perpetuate it.


Violence against women and girls has no place in our vision for a safe, strong, successful Scotland. The Scottish Government, COSLA, and key partners remain steadfast in their commitment to preventing and eradicating this violence and addressing the underlying attitudes and systems that perpetuate it.

Equally Safe is our country’s strategy to prevent and address all forms of violence against women and girls, specifically violence, abuse, and exploitation directed at them because of their gender. This behaviour is predominantly carried out by men and stems from deep-rooted gender inequality, which is unacceptable in modern-day Scotland. It is both a cause and consequence of women’s inequality. This strategy, initially published in 2014, updated in 2016, and now refreshed, was collaboratively developed by the Scottish Government, COSLA, and various national and local partners and stakeholders from the public and third sectors.

This collaborative approach is vital because all spheres of government and all sectors of society have a role to play in tackling this issue. While specialist organisations are crucial for supporting victims of violence, abuse, and exploitation, the refreshed Equally Safe strategy emphasises that violence against women and girls is everyone’s concern, and that we all have a part to play.

The Scottish Government and COSLA, the voice of Local Government in Scotland, will work together across all sectors to establish a unified and collective approach to combat violence against women and girls. This will involve public and private sector systems and services, third sector organisations, trade unions, community groups, and individuals joining forces to prevent violence and to provide safety, positive outcomes, and recovery for those affected, while holding perpetrators of such violence, abuse, and exploitation accountable for harms caused.

The refresh of Equally Safe enables us to adapt to changes in the social and legislative landscape without altering the strategy’s valued aims and objectives. It ensures that the digital world, diverse identities and experiences of women and girls, and children’s rights are central to the strategy. Girls face particular barriers to realising their rights, and this strategy seeks to keep girls visible.

This refresh also reaffirms the joint leadership and commitment of the Scottish Government and COSLA, aligning with the Verity House Agreement, which

emphasises regular and meaningful engagement and respect for each other’s democratic mandates, and the realisation of human rights for all.

We aim to build on the progress made to date in raising awareness of the prevalence and harmful effects of violence against women and girls in Scotland, strengthening laws in this area, and providing support and resources to public and third sector workers engaging and helping those affected. Our investment in frontline services will continue, and we will work together to further explore sustainable funding models for services supporting those affected by all forms of violence against women and girls.

While we’ve made progress, there is still much work to be done. We must prioritise addressing the root causes of gender inequality, challenging outdated stereotypes and societal attitudes that allow violence against women and girls to persist. We need to eliminate systemic gender inequality and focus on prevention. Simultaneously, we must optimise resources and continually improve support for women and girls at risk of or experiencing violence, abuse, and exploitation, ensuring they have the services they need.

Only by working together across all aspects of Scottish life, respecting local circumstances and priorities, can we effectively prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. This strategy demands substantial and sustained effort and commitment from all of us to create a Scotland we can be proud of, where all our citizens can thrive and be Equally Safe.

Siobhian Brown Minister for Victims and Community Safety

Cllr Maureen Chalmers COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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