Violence against women and girls
Across the world, violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights, with a third of all women experiencing this kind of violence during their lifetime.
In every society, women and girls experience violence because of their gender. This includes physical, sexual, psychological and economic forms of violence, both within and outside of the home. Violence towards women and girls is often legitimised, justified or ignored due to discriminatory social norms, and fuelled by gender inequality. In some cases, women are even blamed for the violence committed against them and stigmatised as a result of it. In turn, VAWG undermines women and girls’ ability to control their own lives, restricting their choices and freedoms.
Explore GADN resources and learn more about violence against women and girls.
GADN Working Group
The VAWG Working Group influences the UK Government’s approach to VAWG policy and programming to ensure it is nuanced and rights-based. The Group also advocates for the UK Government to drive international action to eliminate VAWG.
More on the issue
Worldwide, 35% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives.
Some national studies show that up to 70% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Women and girls make up 71% of human trafficking victims globally. Nearly three quarters are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Approximately 650 million women and girls in the world today were married before they were 18 years old.
The UN defines violence against women and girls as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
Wide reaching impact
VAWG impacts women both in the short and long term, physically, psychologically and practically. It profoundly affects women’s choices and general wellbeing, and prevents them from fully participating in society or achieving their potential.
VAWG has negative consequences not only for women but also for their families, communities and whole countries. The costs are financial as well as physical and emotional – ranging from greater healthcare and legal expenses to losses in productivity, draining national budgets and undermining overall development.
Work to shift negative norms and values legitimising violence.
Active engagement of women’s rights organisations and feminist movements.
Rights of Women have developed legal guides for women, particularly those who are at risk of, or who are experiencing, domestic or sexual violence.
Female genital mutilation - research - 28 Too Many
Female genital mutilation - country profiles - 28 Too Many
Sexual and gender-based violence and refugees: the impacts of and on integration domains (University of Birmingham, SEREDA project, Institute for Research into Superdiversity, 2018)
Gender based violence programming in contexts affected by violence and conflict (Christian Aid, August 2018)
Preventing violence against women and girls in Bihar: challenges for implementation and evaluation (Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, July 2018)
VAWG mainstreaming in access to justice programmes: a framework for action (Development in Practice, January 2018)
In women’s eyes: key barriers to women’s access to HIV treatment and a rights-based approach to their sustained well-being (Salamander Trust, Athena Network and AVAC, December 2017)
Programme potential for the prevention of and response to sexual violence among female refugees: a literature review (Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, December 2017)
Women, war and displacement (Irish Consortium on Gender-Based Violence, November 2016)
“Violence. Enough already”: findings from a global participatory survey among women living with HIV (led by Salamander Trust, December 2015)
Violations of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV in clinical and community settings in Uganda (International Community of Women living with HIV in East Africa, November 2015)
Women’s Rights Advocacy Toolkit (2012) – Womankind Worldwide (2012)
Fearless: Standing with Women and Girls to End Violence - ActionAidUK (2015)
A Girl's Right to Learn Without Fear - Plan International (2013)
Case study on abandoning Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Ethiopia – Womankind Worldwide
Destined to fail? How violence against women is undoing development. ActionAid UK (2010)
Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2013)
Leaders for Change: Why support women’s rights organisations? Womankind Worldwide (2013)
Mind the gap: women’s vulnerability to the HIV epidemic - Trocaire (2012)
Female genital cutting infographics - Orchid Project
Female genital cutting general resources - Orchid Project
Programme examples of interventions on Violence Against Women and Girls – Womankind Worldwide (2011)
Taking Stock Zimbabwe summary: An assessment of women’s rights Womankind Worldwide (2011)
Violence, gender and WASH toolkit - WaterAid
Southern-based organisations’ resources
Positive Discipline: Alternatives to Corporal Punishment (Raising Voices, 2009)
Colombia: Women, Conflict-related Sexual Violence and the Peace Process (English version) – (Spanish version) ABColombia, 2013
Ending Domestic Violence: A Pack for Churches – Restored Relationships (2011)
Gender-Based Domestic Violence in Kenya Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (2011)
Neglect, Abuse and Violence Against Older Women. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2013)
Parliaments as Peace-building Institutions : Responding to the Challenges of Gender-Based Violence in West Africa - Ceri Hayes for the UN Development Programme (2010)
Perceptions of the Domestic Violence and Victim's Support Unit Ghana Police Service - Laura Mitchell (2012)
Proceedings Report: Commonwealth Roundtable on Early and Forced Marriage - Ceri Hayes for the Commonwealth Secretariat – (2013)
Technical Paper: Review of Training and Programming Resources on Gender-Based Violence against Key Populations and Annotated Bibliography: Training and Programming Resources on Gender-Based Violence against Key Populations - USAID (2013)
The War at Home - GBV Indicators Project - Gender Links (2011)
What Works to Prevent Partner Violence: An evidence overview. Heise, L. (2011)
Other GADN Issues
📷 TOSTAN Community Empowerment Program on health rights and living free from all forms of violence. Sahre Bocar, Senegal (August 2014) © Jonathan Torgovnik