Gender based violence is any harm or suffering that is perpetrated against a woman or girl, man or boy and that has a negative impact on the physical, sexual or psychological health, development or identity of the person. Gender equality can only be achieved when women and men, girls and boys, have equal rights. Gender inequality, unequal power relations and discrimination based on gender – is at the root of gender-based violence.
This violence is also the main obstacle to the achievement of gender equality. Unequal power relations are upheld through gender-based violence.
GBV is not limited to specific regions or socioeconomic, religious, or ethnic groups but occurs everywhere. It is a global health issue that cuts across the boundaries of economic wealth, culture, religion, age, and sexual orientation.
However, GBV is disproportionally affecting women and girls.GBV is a violation of human rights as reflected in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It was emphasised in the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995.
It is a significant obstacle to the achievement of gender justice, posing a serious threat to democratic development and public health. It is a critical barrier to achieving sustainable development, economic growth and peace. If women, girls, men and boys were not safe, they cannot be full citizens nor fully participate in the development of their society.
GBV severely affects all aspects of women’s health- physical, sexual and reproductive, mental and behavioural health. These Health consequences can be both, immediate and acute. They can also be long-lasting and chronic.
GBV can lead in women’s deaths.Not all hope is lost. There is a need for a paradigm shift to end GBV. We need to focus on the causes of violence founded on gender-based power inequalities and gender-based discrimination. Preventing and stopping GBV should be one of the top key priorities.
Given that GBV is based on gender norms and gender-based power inequalities, GBV prevention strategies should be linked to efforts to increase gender equality more generally. Thus, GBV should be treated in the context of gender inequalities.
There must be efforts to increase women’s economic empowerment to enhance women’s bargaining power and the ability to leave abusive relationships. This includes strengthening women’s entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, improving women’s access to land and property rights and encouraging universal access to quality education.
Women’s economic empowerment interventions which also address gender norms and reach couples and communities can reduce such risks. Furthermore, there is a need to increase sexual and reproductive health and rights as a crucial factor in preventing GBV.