A woman listening to another during the Action Lab

Harmful Gender Norms Lead to Gender-Based Violence

But we have a chance to change these cultural norms. We can change culture and create a world in which everyone – regardless of their gender identity or presentation – can thrive.

Here at Breakthrough, we see four norms that are deep at the root of the culture of gender-based violence. Learn more about these norms and how you can challenge them.


This includes proving, aligning with, and regulating masculinity through sex and violence. We want to create a world in which all genders and gender identities are valued equally; and values such as consent, respect toward others, and empathy are celebrated, including amongst men, such that masculinity is no longer equated with sex and violence. Learn more about gender policing and how we can move beyond it here.


This includes delegitimizing the prevalence and effects of gender-based violence. We want to create a world in which gender-based violence is taken seriously, all survivors are believed, supported, and treated with compassion, and perpetrators are held accountable. Learn more about minimizing violence and how we can move beyond it here.


This is treating women as objects – not people. We want to create a world in which individuals of all genders are valued equally and treated respectfully, have full agency and autonomy, and are recognized for their full humanity. Learn more about objectification and how we can move beyond it here.


This includes shaming women’s sexuality and participation in sex culture – and all non-normative sexuality. We want to create a world in which consensual sexual expression is considered acceptable, healthy, and positive, sexual health and rights are respected, and individuals are treated with dignity regardless of sexual history. Learn more about shaming sexuality and how we can move beyond it here.