Day 12: Mary Ellsberg, Global Women’s Institute, United States

Day 12: Mary Ellsberg, Global Women’s Institute, United States

Mary Ellsberg is an anti-violence activist and the director of The George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute, which aims to support and improve the situation of women and girls worldwide through research, teaching, and engaged service. Mary has more than 30 years of experience in international research and program work, and has played a key role in preventing violence against women and children across the globe. She has seen firsthand the crucial role that communications plays in changing behaviors and challenging social norms.

"When I started working as an activist on violence against women and girls in Nicaragua, we had a terrible time getting journalists to pay any attention to women's stories of abuse. When we got any press coverage at all, it would be completely sensational,” Mary explained. “However, the women's movement started working with journalists to change the way they covered violence, and more importantly, through communications campaigns with timely, innovative messages, they were able to change the way people think about violence.”

Mary believes that access to technology, and social media in particular, has provided more opportunities than ever to create a dialogue about violence against women and girls. “The social media platforms take the messages out of the hands of traditional media, and allow men and women to reframe the narrative around violence,” Mary said. “The Communications X-Change is such a great contribution, because it allows practitioners and activists around the world to share what they are doing, learn from each other, and support each others’ work.”

To learn more about The George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute, visit: To find innovative communications material from organizations like the Global Women’s Institute, check out the Communications X-Change.

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