Gender-based Violence

One in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence during her lifetime.[1] 137 women are murdered each day by a family member or intimate partner;[2] 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone genital mutilation;[3] and more than 650 million women were under the age of consent when they married.[4] Of 6.3 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide, nearly 80% are women and girls.[5]

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a human rights violation. It discriminates against people based on their gender and disproportionately affects women and girls. As defined in the Istanbul Convention, GBV includes all acts “that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” GBV is perpetrated along unequal power relations that are manifested through socially constructed gender roles. It is directed against both individuals and groups, with the aim of degrading and subordinating them. Women of color, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ women are particularly affected by GBV, yet they are less likely to have access to counseling and care services.

GBV exists in all countries and across all socioeconomic groups. It has various manifestations: domestic and intimate partner violence, which can appear as physical, sexual, or psychological violence; sexual violence including rape, forced prostitution, and forced pregnancies; as well as violent social practices like female genital mutilation. GBV also includes psychological violence like coercive control, stalking, or hate speech and cyberbullying in the digital sphere. GBV in the context of war and conflict is also used as a weapon in order to systematically destroy communities and humiliate the enemy.

A World Bank Group report estimated the costs of intimate partner violence across a range of countries to be up to 3.7% of their GDP, which is about as much as what most governments spend on primary education.[6] Addressing GBV not only helps women and girls, but also promotes society as a whole and the economy of every state.

[1] World Health Organization, Global, Regional and National Prevalence Estimates for Intimate Partner Violence Against Women and Global and Regional Prevalence Estimates for Non-partner Sexual Violence Against Women, 2018 (Geneva, 2021).

[2] UNODC, Global Study on Homicide: Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls 2018 (Vienna, 2018).

[3] UNICEF, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern (New York, 2016).

[4] UNICEF, Child Marriage: Latest Trends and Future Prospects (New York, 2018).

[5] International Labour Organization, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, (Geneva, 2022).

[6] Jeni Klugman et al., Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity (Washington: World Bank, 2014).

Our Experts

Ninia LaGrande

Ninia “La Grande” Binias (Germany) is a writer, host, and actress from Hanover, Germany. Her main fields of interest are politics and pop culture, with a focus on ableism and feminism. In 2020 Ninia received the Stadtkulturpreis, the Hanover city Cultural Prize, for her activism and artistic achievements.

Oleksandra Matviichuk

Oleksandra Matviichuk (Ukraine) is a human rights defender who works on issues in Ukraine and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) region. She has excelled in creating horizontal structures to mobilize mass movements against attacks on rights and freedoms, and she has years of experience documenting violations during armed conflict. At present she heads the human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties and coordinates the work of the group Euromaidan SOS.

Gabriela Ramos

Gabriela Ramos (Mexico) is the Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, where she oversees the institution’s contributions to building inclusive societies. She previously worked as Cabinet Director and Sherpa for G20, G7 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) at the OECD.

Sarah Sands

Journalist and author Sarah Sands (United Kingdom) served as the 2021 Chair of the G7 Gender Equality Council. From 2017 to 2020 she was editor of Today, BBC Radio 4’s flagship current affairs program; she has also held positions of editor of the London Evening Standard, the Sunday Telegraph (where she was the first woman editor), and deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph. Ms. Sands is a partner at Hawthorn Advisors and a founder of the Braemar Science Summit.

Yenny Zannuba Wahid

Yenny Zannuba Wahid (Indonesia) is a social entrepreneur and political activist who works to promote peace and tolerance in the world. She currently serves as independent commissioner at PT Buka Lapak, the largest all-commerce platform in Indonesia, and she has founded business ventures that give back to society through an allocation of profit to social causes. Ms. Wahid’s current focus has been on grassroots work to empower women through the Wahid Foundation.

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