Violence against women and girls

 SAHRE BOCAR, SENEGAL - AUGUST 11: Women going through the TOSTAN Community Empowerment Program, where women participants learn about their right to health and their right to be free from all forms of violence, about hygiene, and how diseases are spread and prevented. They also discuss the health risks of harmful practices such as female genital cutting�and child/forced marriage, and how to improve child and maternal health in their village..August 11, 2014 in Sahre Bocar, Senegal. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images)..

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.

GADN Resources

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

The challenge

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.

Useful links

Legal Assistance

Rights of Women have developed legal guides for women, particularly those who are at risk of, or who are experiencing, domestic or sexual violence.

Member resources

Southern-based organisations’ resources

Other resources

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

GADN Coordinator