Gender-based violence (GBV) exists in all countries and across all socio-economic groups, affecting one-third of women worldwide. What is more, contrary to common assumptions perpetrators are both intimate and non-intimate partners. Worldwide, almost one third (27%) of women aged 15-49 years who have been in a relationship report that they have been subjected to some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Moreover, globally 6% of women report they have been subjected to sexual violence from someone other than their husband or partner. However, this figure is likely to be much higher, considering the particular stigmas related to this type of violence.

GBV is rarely an isolated, one-time incident, but rather part of an ongoing pattern of abuse, sustained by long-standing cultural norms and gender stereotypes. It is a serious form of discrimination that constrains individuals’ ability to enjoy their rights and freedoms on an equal basis and to fully participate in society. The effects of GBV may vary among individuals due to intersections with other identities such as age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomic class, which can exacerbate inequalities and leave them even more vulnerable to the consequences of GBV.

This report provides actionable guidelines that governments can use to strengthen their public governance systems, place the needs and experiences of survivor/victims at the centre of all policies and programmes, and improve justice and accountability in order to effectively address GBV.

Eradicating all forms of GBV is a global responsibility. OECD Members have recognised the importance of addressing the challenge, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis increased gender inequalities and created conditions where women face higher risks of GBV, for instance, during periods of confinement and social distancing. While many governments have enacted policies to address GBV, persistent communication barriers and lack of co-ordinated responses among public institutions and actors involved in the implementation of GBV strategies, such as non-governmental institutions and civil society, have made it difficult to break the GBV cycle.

Given the multifaceted challenges that GBV presents, governments should adopt a co-ordinated whole-of-government approach that incorporates society-wide strategies for preventing, protecting and prosecuting against GBV. Finally, it is equally important that governments take a gender equality approach and focus on survivor/victims’ needs and experiences when developing policies and programmes to address GBV.

The OECD is committed to assisting governments in their efforts to prevent, address and eliminate GBV. Under the purview of the OECD Public Governance Committee and its Working Party on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance, the OECD supports countries in providing an integrated, cross-Ministerial and state-wide response to end GBV.

The report benefitted from the steering and comments of both the Working Party on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance and its Technical Advisory Group on GBV. This document was declassified by the Public Governance Committee (PGC) on 31st May 2021. It served as a background document at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in spring 2021.

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