Global Protection Cluster

Gender Based Violence
The Issue

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic, or national boundaries. Gender-based violence refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. During displacement and times of crisis, the threat of GBV significantly increases. Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. It can take many forms, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour crimes’. The consequences of gender-based violence are devastating and can have life-long repercussions for survivors. It can even lead to death.

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The Approach

Gender-based violence is preventable.  

Gender-based violence programming (i.e. prevention and response) and risk mitigation across all humanitarian efforts is lifesaving and a priority for the Global Protection Cluster. Through the Gender-Based Violence Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR), we work together with partners, governments, and communities to address GBV and to implement quality programming to prevent, mitigate and respond.   
Across all Protection Clusters, we prioritize two mutually reinforcing objectives to address GBV: 

  • Reducing the risk of GBV
  • Ensuring all survivors of GBV have adequate and timely access to quality services that meet their needs 

We are committed to continuously strengthening coordination and programming to protect women and girls from GBV. We advocate for adequate resources to increase the implementation of quality specialized programmes for women and girls.  

We also work with male survivors of sexual violence and survivors with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI) through specialized programming to respond to their specific needs.


The Gender-Based Violence Area of Responsibility

The Gender-Based Violence Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR) is the global-level forum for coordination and collaboration on GBV prevention and response and advancing risk mitigation in humanitarian settings under the Cluster System. The GBV AoR constitutes a focus area within the Global Protection Cluster. The GBV AoR works to strengthen system-wide preparedness and technical capacity to respond to humanitarian crises, bringing together non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, academics and others under the shared objective of ensuring life-saving, predictable, accountable and effective action on GBV. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, co-coordinated the GBV AoR with UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, until 2017, when UNFPA took on the role as sole lead agency and provider of last-resort.

The GBV AoR applies the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) definition of gender-based violence: “Gender-based violence is an umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will, and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females.” It includes threats of such violence and acts both in the public and private spaces. The GBV AoR Strategy 2021-2025, outlines the vision, mission and strategic objectives for the GBV AoR and details the work needed to achieve these goals over the next five years.

You can visit the GBV AoR website here