Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, 3rd Edition - Violence Against Women

Elsevier, Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, & Conflict (Third Edition) Volume 2, 2022, Pages 313-323
Irene Dawaa, Meron Geneneb

Violence against women (VAW) is a violation of human rights rooted in gendered social structures and a pervasive problem worldwide. It cuts across age, socioeconomic, educational, and geographic boundaries, affecting all societies. Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by gender-based violence, which causes immense harm, suffering, loss of dignity, along with immediate and long-lasting medical and psychological damage. It also places a heavy burden on societies and economies. Certain groups in a population may also be at risk of GBV, such as refugees, older persons, persons with disabilities, adolescent girls, children, LGBTI persons, and female heads of household. Conflict and displacement exacerbate preexisting gender disparities and intensify women's vulnerabilities to VAW due to weakened infrastructure, societal support, breakdown of social norms, lack of legal protection, and proliferation of weapons. In some conflicts, sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war, as a tool for ethnic cleansing, degrade women and girls, intimidate and control a population. Given the complexity of violence against women and its multifarious consequences, addressing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) necessitates an interconnected, multisectoral, and comprehensive approach. While robust VAWG programs are relatively new in conflict and humanitarian settings, some initiatives demonstrate that VAWG prevention programs can be effective in conflict and post-conflict settings. Community-level attitudinal and social-norms change programs as well as economic empowerment of women programs are among the strategies that are proven to be effective.