Executive summary

Gender-based violence (GBV)1 is a pervasive and destructive problem affecting people regardless of age, gender, race, and socioeconomic background and in the majority of cases women and girls. Women and girls are exposed to the threat of GBV as early as the pre-natal period and throughout their lifecycle, and in all spheres of their lives, including economic, social, political, and psychological. An alarming percentage of women and girls become victims/survivors at least once during their lifetime.

GBV has gained the attention of policymakers in recent years and has been repeatedly reported by OECD Members as the top gender equality issue they face. Many OECD countries have shown commitment to ending GBV through the ratification of international, legally binding instruments, including the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).

Ending GBV is everyone’s responsibility. Governments need to provide holistic legal frameworks and policies for preventing, identifying and prosecuting GBV and to build services that understand and respond to victims/survivors’ needs and interests. This report offers evidence and recommendations for an OECD GBV Governance Framework around the following three pillars: Systems, Culture, and Access to Justice. In the Systems Pillar, the report explores OECD countries’ legal and policy frameworks, institutional set-up, and efforts to design victims/survivor-centric approaches based on horizontal and vertical co-ordination, funding, data collection, risk assessment and management. In the Culture Pillar, the report collects OECD country practices that put victims/survivors’ experiences at the centre of policy design through integrated service delivery, consultation of victims/survivors and other relevant stakeholders and the engagement of men and boys. In the Access to Justice Pillar, the report provides a stocktaking of OECD country efforts to combat victims/survivors’ barriers to justice, develop resolution practices that include restorative justice initiatives, problem-solving justice and therapeutic justice that may build on integrated justice solutions, and practices that enforce accountability.

The report reveals that stronger legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as whole-of-government policies and strategies, have been adopted to address GBV across all of the Member countries. In addition, the majority of OECD countries have reported strengthening co-ordination mechanisms, improving stakeholder engagement, and enhancing data collection efforts on GBV. Many OECD countries have also reported developing integrated approaches to service delivery for more efficient and co-ordinated responses to GBV. Finally, there is a growing commitment to develop victims/survivor-centred pathways to access to justice, including through a greater emphasis on understanding the legal needs of victims/survivors and a commitment to holding perpetrators accountable.

Despite these efforts, the report identified significant challenges across all OECD countries that slow progress towards freeing lives from violence and implementing responses that save women’s and girls’ lives.

Key among these challenges is the fact that not all forms of GBV are recognised and prosecuted in OECD countries, despite comprehensive and legally binding international conventions, extensive campaigns and pressure from civil society. For example, domestic violence is only criminalised in 32 OECD countries, and not all acts of physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse within the family or domestic unit are included in national legal frameworks. Similarly, legislation against rape, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are far from comprehensive. There is a strong need to develop legal frameworks that address all forms of GBV and protect women and girls in all spheres of their lives.

In addition, challenges persist in implementing whole-of-government systems: co-ordination mechanisms remain uneven and information-sharing among agencies and central and subnational governments is inadequate. Of OECD countries, 38% do not dedicate specific budgets to national GBV policies, and limited resources remain a major barrier to creating effective institutional responses. All GBV responses need to be underpinned by robust data, disaggregated by forms of violence and the intersectional experiences of victims/survivors, as well as information on perpetrators. The lack of data is a major roadblock since most data collection efforts are not disaggregated by all necessary variables. For example, only 13% of OECD countries surveyed collect data on economic violence and only 30% collect data on psychological and technology-facilitated violence. In addition, OECD countries continue to struggle in combating domestic violence and GBV, given social, justice, and health support systems that are already under severe strain, as well as limited capacity in broader national systems of emergency crisis management. However, only 36% of OECD countries surveyed have introduced stand-alone crisis management plans to combat GBV.

As for consultation of stakeholders during policy design, victims/survivors are reported to be the least common stakeholders engaged. In addition, less than half (43%) of respondent countries report adopting practices to account for victims/survivors’ intersectional experiences in the design of GBV policies, programmes or services. Much scope remains to strengthen prevention interventions and early detection efforts of instances of GBV, which include working with perpetrators, who are often men.

While integrated service delivery (ISD) has high potential to address GBV, including intimate partner violence (IPV), less than half (48%) of respondent OECD countries reported promoting and implementing this approach to service delivery. In addition, the lack of systematic evaluation of the effects of ISD on victims/survivors’ outcomes has limited its expansion and improvement. Finally, ensuring effective access to justice for victims/survivors is a vital element in the fight to end GBV. It should include finding ways to identify legal and related needs of victims/survivors and efforts to refocus justice services to respond to those needs. Yet only 16% of the OECD countries surveyed reported using legal needs surveys to assess the legal needs of victims/survivors. In addition, there is a strong need to develop measures that reach all types of GBV victims/survivors, including immigrant and ethnic populations and especially those without access to communication technologies. Accessible information is especially crucial, as justice systems and processes are complex, and victims/survivors of all backgrounds need this support to be aware of their rights.


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


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