UNFPA works to address gender-based violence in humanitarian, peacebuilding and development contexts in over 150 countries and territories around the world. In 2020 alone, UNFPA invested over $223 million in eliminating gender-based violence and harmful practices.
UNFPA works in partnership with women’s and youth feminist organizations, networks and movements, civil society organizations, governments, academic and research institutes and other partners, to support interventions to end violence against women including through prevention programming, service delivery, policy and laws and data and research.
Responding to gender-based violence
UNFPA supports comprehensive, survivor-centered responses in humanitarian and development settings through quality health, social and justice services. At the core of UNFPA’s approach are the right to safety, confidentiality, non-discrimination and self-determination for all survivors.
One key response is provided through integrating services for survivors into programmes, policies and advocacy on sexual and reproductive health. As health services are among the first places survivors of gender-based violence seek assistance, UNFPA leverages this critical opportunity to reach affected women and girls. Those who present in need of support are referred to a wide range of assistance, including life-saving medical services and supplies, cash or voucher assistance, dignity kits, psychosocial services and legal support.
UNFPA also plays a role in setting standards for respectful, survivor-focused care. Its work is always in support of and in line with the joint UN Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence and the Interagency Minimum Standards on GBV in Emergencies Programming. UNFPA is the Inter-agency Standing Committee-mandated lead agency on gender-based violence in emergencies leading the Gender-based Violence Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR), the global-level forum for coordination on gender-based violence prevention, risk mitigation and response in humanitarian settings
Preventing gender-based violence
In its efforts to end gender-based violence, UNFPA works towards changing harmful social and gender norms that perpetuate gender inequality. For example, UNFPA works with men and boys to promote positive masculinities with the aim of securing gender equality and ending violence and harmful practices against women and girls while being accountable to feminist movements.
UNFPA also uses comprehensive sexuality education as a primary prevention strategy to end gender-based violence, since it helps adolescents to nurture positive gender-equitable attitudes and values, which are linked to reduced violence, and healthier, equitable, non-violent relationships. This early intervention can have long-lasting impacts across the lives of women and men.
Supporting laws and policies
Gender-based violence is a human rights violation and is the result of structural, deep-rooted discrimination, which requires legislative, administrative and institutional measures and reforms, including the eradication of gender stereotypes.
UNFPA supports governments in the implementation of international agreements including the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2030 Agenda, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action. UNFPA has contributed to strengthening national policies, accountability frameworks and legal normative frameworks, including laws on gender-based violence.
Measuring the problem
UNFPA also works extensively in collecting data and generating evidence to understand the prevalence, incidence and impact of gender-based violence worldwide. For example, in 2016, UNFPA and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched the kNOwVAWdata initiative in the Asia Pacific region. With support from the Joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, UNFPA has now scaled up the kNOwVAWdata initiative into a further three regions. This initiative provides quality technical support and capacity building for the ethical collection of evidence, as well as support in translating these data into evidence-based policies.
UNFPA also supports the Gender-Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS), which is used in crisis settings, and an adapted version of this system for development settings (GBVIMS+). These systems enable the safe collection, storage, analysis and sharing of data reported by survivors.
UNFPA is also a partner in the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, a global grant-making mechanism that invests in initiatives by civil society organizations from around the world and that are aimed at ending gender-based violence through prevention, law and policy implementation and access to essential services for survivors. And UNFPA co-leads, with UNICEF, the Joint Programme to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage.
Updated 28 June 2022