The Issues

What is gender-based violence (GBV) and what do we mean by collective action? What approaches and initiatives have proven successful in tackling GBV?

In this section you will find background information on definitions and prevalence of GBV, an explanation of collective action and its importance in addressing GBV and some of the latest news on the topic from our partners and others across the world.

Latest news

  • Mean Streets: Identifying and Responding to Urban Refugees' Risks of GBV

    This report synthesizes learning from four urban settings around the globe: Kampala (Uganda), Quito (Ecuador), Beirut (Lebanon) and Delhi (India). It contains recommendations on how humanitarian actors, including policymakers, donors and practitioners, can mitigate the gender-based violence risks faced by urban refugees.

    from Refugee Law Project/Women's Refugee Commission
  • Guidelines for investigating conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence against men and boys

    These guidelines, developed and produced by the Institute for International Criminal Investigations, are designed to assist criminal-justice and human-rights investigators, reporters and monitors around the globe to fully and properly monitor, document and investigate those forms sexual and gender-based violence against men and boys that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and other violations of international humanitarian, criminal and human-rights law.

    from Refugee Law Project/Institute for International Criminal Investigations
  • MenEngage Partnership & Accountability blog series

    MenEngage have brought together a blog series on accountability, tackling issues such as accountability to the women's and social justice movements for those working with men and boys for gender equality. Readers are invited to join the discussion, including via a link to the Interactions SGBV Dialogues post from Amel Fahmy in which she relays her ‘Aha’ moment on involving men and boys in addressing gender-based violence. 

    from MenEngage

What is gender-based violence?

The term gender-based violence is used as a way to situate abuse within unequal relationships between men and women. The United Nations defines violence against women as 'any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.'

However, while women are in the majority of those affected by GBV, men may also be victims of sexual or physical violence – usually at the hands of other men, but in some cases by women. Men may be subjected to violence because of their sexuality or ethnicity, or because they simply do not conform to dominant male stereotypes, but less is known about male experiences of GBV as cases are far more likely to go unreported for men than for women

Find out more

Social movements and collective action

Collective forms of agency have made a great difference in the promotion of positive social change in relation to gender-based violence. Collective agency can mean social movements, but also coalitions, networks and small groups working together. What all have in common is that they are engaged in formal and informal forms of organising around gender-based violence. Women’s and feminist movements have played a key role over time in ensuring that legislation and policies on gender based violence are created and implemented (Htun and Weldon 2012, Ampofo 2008). Increasingly, collective forms of organisation are developing which involve both women and men, with the aim of creating change in social values and norms.

Men can be raped too: Men of Hope film

While women and girls make up the majority of victims and survivors of GBV, it is increasingly being recognised that men experience such violence too. This film from the Refugee Law Project in Uganda breaks the silence around sexual violence against men in conflict. Scripted, filmed and acted by members of a unique support group 'Men of Hope', this ground breaking work captures the multiple impacts of this under-recognised reality - suicide attempts, family disintegration, unemployment, stigmatisation, exclusion, and more.