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.

How will we get there?

Leadership and Governance

The central aim of Equally Safe is to work collaboratively with partners across all sectors. Having a clear governance structure that underpins delivery is essential.

Key delivery partners will have a strong and effective voice in how progress is made, particularly over process, risk management and tackling challenges.

Our governance arrangements draw on existing structures that work well. They continue to place delivery partners at the centre.

Our high-level Joint Strategic Board, chaired by the Scottish Government and COSLA, ensures accountability and aligns strategic focus. The Verity House Agreement informs our working arrangements.

A Scottish Government ministerial group has been established to demonstrate and enable collective leadership across portfolios, and to ensure that the Scottish Government is using all the tools of national government so that the aims of Equally Safe are achieved as work progresses.

COSLA is committed to ongoing collaboration and partnership with the Scottish Government. It will work with its members to consider VAWG across all areas of policy that affect women’s and girls’ lives. Close working with Public Health Scotland and the Improvement Service through our joint framework agreement to tackle women’s inequality and VAWG, along with guidance and advice from the experience and expertise of the local VAWPs, our advisory professional bodies and specialist services, will underpin local government’s ongoing focus on preventing and eradicating VAWG.


Scottish Government/COSLA partnership in line with Verity House Agreement

Progress And Assurance

Scottish Government:

The Scottish Government has a key role in co-ordinating the implementation of Equally Safe across at a national level by demonstrating leadership, commitment, and co-operation.


COSLA has the key role in co-ordinating the implementation of Equally Safe across all local partnerships and stakeholders by demonstrating local leadership, commitment and co-operation.

Strategic assurance:

The Scottish Government and COSLA are committed to working collaboratively with partners through the Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board and other key mechanisms to achieve change.


Delivery partners: We will work to strengthen ties with our wider networks across the policy landscape to ensure stakeholders remain at the core of delivery.

Informed By


Governance principles

The governance arrangements for Equally Safe are based on the following principles.

  • We are clear, delivery focused and streamlined.
  • We organise around a central pillar of collaboration that uses the specialist knowledge and experience in national and local government, the third sector, and public sector organisations.
  • We will ensure policy is informed by those on the front line and those with lived experience.
  • We will ensure that roles are clear and supported in taking forward Equally Safe priorities.

Collaborative effort

No one sector, organisation, or service can tackle the prevention and eradication of VAWG alone.

Specialist services remain key. However, it is only by working together nationally and locally through collective leadership, that we can make the system changes needed to realise the human rights of women, children and young people. Equally Safe is predicated on the strength of a whole-system, gendered response to preventing and tackling all forms of VAWG. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience across Scotland and beyond for us to tap into and build upon. Much of this has been developed by our partners in the third sector from decades of working directly with women, children and young people who have experienced violence, abuse, and exploitation. Much has been learned through the projects and initiatives that have been funded over the years locally and significantly by the Scottish Executive and Scottish Government.

At every step, we’ll collaborate with women, children, and young people, learning from their direct experiences of VAWG. Participation should be meaningful, effective, and sustainable. It should recognise the barriers for particular groups to be involved. It should ensure that those participating understand their rights; have a chance to be involved; engage on the basis that it is their choice to do so; are valued and supported; that everyone works together; and that there is regular communication and feedback.

Making the best use of resources

COSLA and the Scottish Government agree that it is vital that we remain focused on addressing VAWG.

We acknowledge the scale and importance of the task before us. We recognise that we must work collaboratively and with partners and expert stakeholders from across the public and third sectors to ensure that investment in tackling VAWG is equal to the task before us.

Scottish Government funding dedicated to tackling VAWG is at an all-time high in Scotland. We have invested £19 million a year in specialist services and projects through the Delivering Equally Safe Fund and £18.5m for specialist advocacy support for victim/ survivors of GBV from the Victim Centred Approach Fund.

We also recognise the investments, made by local authorities, health boards, and justice partners among others, in local systems and services to prevent and tackle VAWG and to support victim/survivors. We are committed, through even greater partnership working, to build a focus on prevention and to ensure that women, children and young people are supported to recover from VAWG.

It is vital now more than ever that we make the best use of the resources, including the people and finances that we have, to tackle VAWG by effectively using the collective resources of the public and third sectors.

We remain committed to developing a more consistent, coherent, collective, and stable funding model that will ensure both a focus on prevention and high-quality, accessible, specialist services across Scotland for women, children, and young people experiencing any form of VAWG.

We will consider the delivery approach of current dedicated funding for tackling VAWG, and how this funding can be further aligned to meet the ambitions of Equally Safe.

Accountability and measuring progress

We’ve updated our outcomes framework, which sets out a high-level vision for Equally Safe.

We are committed to publishing an updated Equally Safe delivery plan and performance framework with SMART indicators to help monitor progress against our agreed activities and outcomes, and to identify areas for future improvement.

We’ll continuously assess our progress, aiming to reduce all forms of VAWG. We’ll use evidence and data to understand how our joint efforts are effecting change.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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