2017 saw the start of the #MeToo movement which created a seismic shift in the conversations around abuse. Women began to openly speak out on their individual experiences. The #MeToo movement continues to grow strong, today there are individuals in the public eye who are still being called out for abuse. This has inspired women across the world to speak up and thus, resulted in a time of rapid change and shifting attitudes.

Populus surveyed over 14,400 women across fifteen countries on behalf of the Avon Foundation for Women and Good Business, advising on methodology and design, conducting the fieldwork and capturing the data for the report. Conducting a global survey shed light on the differences and similarities across different cultures, creating a collective voice for women.

Populus found at a global level, the majority of women (56%) have some experience of abuse, either to themselves or someone they know. The most common form of abuse experience is psychological, followed by physical.

With an increasing awareness around gender equality, the Avon Global Women’s Survey Report, provides insights and a voice to the perceptions and experiences of women in fifteen countries across the globe.

The relationship: Expectations of relationships vary across the world

The lens through which women perceive their relationships are influenced by a multitude of factors, different cultural expectations being one of them. This was highlighted in the survey.

When asked whether a woman has a ‘duty’ to provide sex for her partner when he wants it, only 2% of women in Argentina felt they have this obligation whilst 38% of women in the Philippines say that they do.

The majority of women think violence against a partner cannot be justified when he/she does not what is asked, flirts with someone else, breaks marriage or relationship vows, is unfaithful, or goes against societal values.

What is considered to be abuse?

Across all the countries surveyed, a strong consistent message against acceptance of violence and abuse was found. The majority of women reported to find all forms of behaviour associated with abuse as unacceptable. The figures around finding behaviour unacceptable were even higher when the behaviour was violent.

The below graph shows responses to the question: how acceptable or unacceptable do you think the following behaviours are from a husband or other male partner?

Avon Global Women’s Survey Report, Pg. 18

Experiences in public: One in five women feel unsafe in public

While the majority of women across the fifteen countries reported feeling safe in public, in some countries this was significantly higher – 47% of the women report feeling unsafe in South Africa and 51% in Turkey.

A common experience for women out in public is being a target of whistling, shouting or commenting in a sexual manner. This is perceived as abuse by 82% of women globally.

The majority of women in the UK do not know where to turn for help if they encounter abuse

Only 40% of women in the UK report know where to go to seek help if they encounter abuse, significantly lower than the global average of 62%. The figure in Russia for knowing where to go for help is even lower at 32%.

16% of women globally felt that something would hold them back from seeking support, the most common barriers is the fear of the abuse getting worse and the fear for any children involved.

Only 59% of women globally trust the justice system to take claims of physical abuse seriously

The global figure for trust in the justice system around reporting abuse incidents is low. This figure can be higher in some countries, such as seen in the Philippines.

Avon Global Women’s Survey Report

The Foundation and the Avon Global Women’s Survey Report have been working to help end violence against women and girls since 2014. Since then, they have campaigned, fundraised and launched justice initiatives across the world.

This report sees the launch of the #EmbraceTheChange campaign to raise awareness of gender-based violence, including the often unspoken non-physical forms of violence. The Foundation has released animations and acted videos to portray the different types of violence that were explored in the survey, these videos have been targeted towards the perpetrators of abuse to help them recognise and reflect on their own behaviour.

Download the Avon Global Women’s Survey Report here


This research took place between 28th September 2018 and 24th October 2018. A representative sample of 1000 women over the age of 18 were surveyed in each of the 15 countries, see table below, with the exception of Ecuador where the sample size was capped at 400. The survey was conducted online.

Avon Global Women’s Survey, Table 1, Pg.12.

Populus is a full service research and strategy consultancyWe unlock the Critical Knowledge that brands need to better understand the world around us. We add value to our findings by applying expert analysis to uncover clear, actionable insight. Find out more by calling 020 7253 9900 or emailing info@populus.co.uk.