Gender-based violence (GBV)1 is pervasive and complex problem, afflicting people regardless of age, gender, race, and socioeconomic background across countries and in the majority of cases women and girls. Globally, nearly one in three women experiences physical and/or sexual violence in her lifetime – most often at the hands of her intimate partner. While this number is alarming, it does not reflect the full extent of the problem, as most cases of physical and/or sexual violence are not reported. Extensive research has shown that women and girls are the overwhelming majority of victims/survivors of GBV and can suffer long-term – even lifelong – physical, psychological, emotional, mental and economic consequences. GBV is also a threat to victims’/survivors’ rights and freedom, jeopardising their full, meaningful and equal participation in society. Victims/survivors can be exposed to multiple forms of GBV, including intimate partner violence; sexual abuse; sexual harassment; physical, economic and psychological abuse; technology-facilitated violence; human trafficking; female genital mutilation; and forced child marriage.

GBV is the manifestation of a combination of unequal power structures and deeply rooted harmful cultural norms that legitimise violence against victims/survivors. Several factors of gender inequality can expose victims/survivors to violence, including a lack of economic resources, representation of women in politics and leadership positions, and uneven access to justice. Furthermore, intersectional experiences of victims/survivors due to age, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and socioeconomic class can make them more vulnerable to the effects of GBV.

Since 2017, governments in OECD countries have consistently reported GBV as the most challenging gender equality issue they face. These concerns have only been exacerbated by the worrying increase in reported instances of GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic, as highlighted in the 2022 Report on the Implementation of the OECD Gender Recommendations.

International collaboration and high-level diplomatic steps have been taken to combat gender-based violence by OECD Members, such as the 2019 adoption of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation Abuse, and Harassment in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance (SEAH). In addition, the current global context poses further challenges to the fight against GBV. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, causing large losses of life and massive displacement of populations, particularly of women and children. Historically, GBV, including sexual violence, trafficking and forced marriage, has increased in conflict settings. The economic fallout from the war in Ukraine has put further pressure on state budgets in many OECD countries, making it even more urgent to ensure that public spending is not diverted from fighting GBV.

This report is the latest output of the OECD’s workstream dedicated to preventing, addressing and ending GBV. Building on long-standing cross-national data collection on GBV, including the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) and the OECD Family Database, the OECD’s horizontal initiative against GBV started with the 2020 high-level conference on intimate partner violence (IPV), entitled “Taking Public Action to End Violence at Home” ( This event resulted in a “Call to Action” by OECD Ambassadors to continue OECD work in this area. In response to this call, the OECD has produced several reports exploring how governments can better address this crisis of violence. This work includes the 2021 report on Eliminating Gender-based Violence: Governance and Survivor/Victim-centred Approaches; the 2023 report on Supporting lives free from violence: Towards better integration of services for victims/survivors, the new edition of the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) 2023 as well as the podcast series “Truth Hurts”.

This report promotes a comprehensive approach to eliminating GBV by combining insights from the recent OECD work with a robust database from surveys/questionnaires conducted with OECD member countries in 2022. The data collection included the long-standing SIGI Gender-Based Violence Legal Survey, the 2021 Survey on Strengthening Governance and Survivor/Victim-centric Approaches to End GBV, the 2021 Questionnaire on Integrating Service Delivery for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence and the 2021 Consultation with Non-Governmental Service Providers Serving Victims/Survivors.

The report builds on and supports the implementation of the 2013 OECD Gender Recommendation on Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship, the 2015 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Public Life and the OECD DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Assistance, which is the first international standard on preventing and responding to violence against women in development co-operation and humanitarian assistance.

The OECD supports countries in providing an integrated, cross-ministerial and state-wide response to end GBV. To that end, this report is the result of a horizontal OECD “Central Priority Fund” project, co-ordinated by the OECD Public Governance Committee and its Working Party on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance. Its preparation involved collaboration across several OECD teams: the OECD Public Governance Directorate (GOV), the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) and the OECD Development Centre (DEV). The report was approved by the Public Governance Committee on 12 September 2023.


← 1. In this report, “gender” and “gender-based violence” are interpretated by countries taking into account international obligations, as well as national legislation.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2023

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at