Gender-Based Violence

Globally, one out of three women will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with rates of abuse reaching 70% in some countries.

Men and boys also experience sexual violence, increasingly documented in conflict countries and especially when gender identity conflicts with gender norms. Gender-based violence (GBV) also affects other marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender community.

USAID’s global mandate in development and humanitarian assistance places the Agency in a strong position to effectively address this complex, multifaceted issue.

USAID programs support prevention and response to GBV by:

  • Addressing the root causes of violence
  • Improving prevention and protection services
  • Responding to the health and economic needs of those affected by GBV
  • Supporting legislation and its enforcement against GBV

GBV is a human rights and public health issue that limits individual and societal development with high human and economic costs. Eliminating GBV is a long-standing goal of the U.S. Government. The equal participation of women in the political, economic and social spheres is a key ingredient for democratic development.

Unless women fully enjoy their human rights, to which freedom from violence is inextricably bound, progress toward development will continue to fall short.

Women who are abused by their partners are less likely to earn a living and less able to care for their children. Children who witness violence are significantly more at risk for health problems, anxiety disorders, poor school performance and violent behavior.

USAID has supported activities around the globe to combat GBV including:

  • Educating and encouraging change within communities in Ethiopia regarding the harmful traditional practices of bride abduction, bride price and early marriage;
  • Creating safe school environments, in Ghana and Malawi, for girls and boys to promote gender-equitable relationships and reduce school-related GBV;
  • Supporting the capacity of local communities to influence changes in attitudes and behavior in order to reduce violence against women and girls in Liberia, Pakistan, Southern Sudan, Uganda, Congolese refugees in Rwanda, and Burmese refugees in Thailand; and
  • Promoting community-based efforts to protect women's legal rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.

USAID is developing multi-year, comprehensive GBV Strategy and Implementation Guidance to ensure that assistance is more effective and responsive towards GBV. 

USAID regularly looks for ways to improve the availability of evaluation data on gender-based violence programs so program managers can design better GBV response initiatives.  One such evaluation is the Women's Justice and Empowerment Initiative (WJEI): Lessons Learned and Implications for Gender-Based Violence Programming in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The recently completed evaluation assists USAID and implementing partners to ensure we address GBV in the most effective manner.

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Last updated: July 24, 2015

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