Photo: Lyra Vula / Medica Kosova

Gender-based violence

Gender-based violence is a widespread problem that affects the lives of millions of women worldwide. When acts of violence are committed against women and girls because of their gender, society as a whole loses. Because equality, lasting peace and security for all cannot be achieved until women are free from violence and have their basic human rights respected.

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence (GBV) refers to acts that hurt, threaten, violate, force or restrict someone, and which are based in a gendered power structure. This gendered power structure uses perceptions of masculinity and femininity to create a rank order of gender, resulting in a power imbalance.

Both men and women can be survivors/victims or perpetrators of GBV. However, statistics show that the majority of all GBV against women and girls is perpetrated by men.

A significant part of GBV is sexual violence: violence as a sexual expression of power and control, which has nothing to do with sexuality. Sexual violence includes rape, sexual abuse and sexual harassment. 

At Kvinna till Kvinna, we focus on addressing GBV by men against women and girls in conflict-affected areas. That is because we see that women are at increased risk of violence during conflicts—both in public and in their homes.

We also address other acts of GBV such as honour crimes, child marriage, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and violence against those whose gender identity or sexuality does not fit society’s expectations.

Gender-based violence today

million girls worldwide have experienced rape or other forced sexual acts
of child trafficking victims are girls.
0in 2
female victims of homicide in 2012 were killed by their intimate partner or family

Why gender-based violence is a problem

Gender-based violence against women is a widespread problem: it exists in all social classes, cultures and communities. It is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Gender-based violence can have serious consequences for individuals—from grave physical harm to lasting psychological trauma.

But more than just an individual problem, GBV is a systematic violation of women’s human rights. It silences women and prevents them from raising their voices. It is used as a systematic, effective way of undermining women’s struggle for change. (That is why women rights activists are so often targeted with GBV.)

To achieve gender equality, we must overcome gender-based violence. Because only when women are free from violence can they participate fully, effectively and equally in society.

Photo: Rick Bajornas / UN Photo -

“The most effective way to reduce violence against women is to strengthen women’s organisations.”

These were the words of Victoria Wollie from Liberia when she addressed the UN Security Council in December 2016. It was the first time the Security Council invited a women’s rights organisation to speak about the situation in a specific country.

Victoria is an alumnus of our ITP training and represents our partner organisation West Africa for Peacebuilding.

How we work for change

Kvinna till Kvinna works against GBV by partnering with women’s rights organisations in conflict-affect areas who counteract GBV.

On an individual level, our partners shelter and support women (including activists) and their children who have been or are subjected to GBV.

This individual support is rooted in a feminist approach. We believe in victims/survivors’ potential and strength to reclaim their independence. We see them as active players; we are simply by their side in a supportive, consultative role.

On a structural level, our partners prevent GBV by raising awareness and organising trainings for all genders. They systematically collect GBV data, advocate for legislative change and hold governments accountable.

Finally, our partners work to change the gendered power structure. By challenging destructive masculinity/femininity norms, we create lasting change.

Our work against gender-based violence