Gender-based Violence

Int’l Guide to Addressing GBV

Read more about the role sport can play in addressing gender based violence at

Gender-based violence (GBV) involves men and women, in which the female is usually the victim; and which is derived from unequal power relationships between men and women. Violence is directed specifically against a woman because she is a woman, or affects women disproportionately.108 It includes, but is not limited to, physical, sexual and psychological harm.109 The most pervasive form of gender-based violence is abuse of a woman by intimate male partners.110

This is the most socially tolerated human rights violation of our time, deeply rooted in tradition, inequity and ignorance. The cost of the global pandemic of gender-based violence is beyond measure. The destructive impact can be seen in global and regional economics, education, public health, and most poignantly, in the physical and psychological toll it takes on the one billion individual girls and women whose lives are never the same after being violated.

Adolescent girls who experience GBV suffer physical and emotional health consequences that can have a lasting impact on their health. The assault to their self-efficacy, self-esteem, and ability to trust adults can lead to self-damaging behaviour, including early sexual debut, increased risk of abuse within consensual relationships, unprotected sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and unsafe sex with multiple partners.

One report shows that among the 14 percent of girls in Rakai, Uganda,111 whose first intercourse was coerced, subsequent condom use was lower and unintended pregnancies more common. In Nicaragua, women who experienced attempted or completed rape before age 19 were found to later have more sexual partners than did women who were not abused or less severely abused. Unwanted pregnancy and STIs resulting from rape can also lead to serious reproductive health threats for girls and young women.

GBV contributes through multiple pathways to the dramatic rise in HIV prevalence among women and girls, especially young women. The risk of contracting HIV is up to three times greater for women who have been abused than for women who have not.112 This is likely due to the aggressive nature of abusive sex, which creates more opportunities for transmission, and because abusive men are more likely to engage in high risk behaviours, including having multiple partners and sex without protection.

Useful Example – Broad Discussions as Points of Entry
Ipas Central America's training-of-trainers programme raises awareness of how SRHR are fundamental human rights. The workshop is grounded in a broad discussion of human rights and how SRHR are globally accepted under these frameworks.

The following example can easily be adapted for use in a sport programme. In one exercise, "Walking in Her Shoes," each participant is assigned a fictional character whose story they follow through various stages of experience with domestic or sexual violence. Some characters are denied professional help or care; some characters' stories end tragically; all storylines push participants to challenge their assumptions about women who are victims of violence. In a post-activity discussion, participants grapple with some deeply entrenched misconceptions about why violence against women occurs and why it is so difficult for women to break from the cycle of violence. Participants in the programme often instruct varied audiences such as educators, students, health-care service providers, youth and women's groups. The goal is a ripple effect through society: as people learn the importance of respecting sexual and reproductive rights as fundamental human rights, they spread that awareness to others.

Adolescent Girl Life Skills:

Tip: Engaging Boys and Men
Although it is only one step, educating people, especially boys and men, about biased gender norms and how they contribute to (and can stop) violence is critical to long-term change.

Useful Examples

  • CANTERA, in Nicaragua, addresses GBV with men and boys.
  • The work of the Men Engage Alliance also provides good examples of initiatives that can make a difference.
  • Work done by Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa demonstrates how organisations can engage with men to address important issues of reproductive choice.