UNHCR is committed to protect the people we work with and for from GBV. Together with partners, governments, women-led organizations and communities, UNHCR works to address GBV and implement quality programming to prevent and respond to GBV and mitigate its risks.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. When people flee their homes, they are often at greater risk of physical, sexual and psychological violence, such as rape, sexual abuse, trafficking and forced prostitution.
Although anyone – women, girls, men and boys – can fall victim to violence simply because of their sex or gender, women and girls are especially at risk. It is estimated that one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
Gender-based violence is preventable and UNHCR is committed to promoting gender equality and protecting displaced and stateless people from GBV.
What are forms of Gender-based Violence (GBV)?
Gender-based violence can include sexual, physical, mental and economic harm inflicted in public or in private. It also includes threats of violence, coercion and manipulation. This can take many forms such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour crimes’.
The consequences of gender-based violence are devastating and can have life-long repercussions for survivors. It can even lead to death.
What is UNHCR doing to end Gender-based Violence?
Gender-based violence programming (i.e. prevention and response) and risk mitigation across all sectors is lifesaving and an institutional priority for us. We work together with partners, governments and communities to address GBV and to implement quality programming to prevent, mitigate and respond.
Our primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees and other people who were forced to flee. We support States to uphold their responsibility to ensure that people of concern are protected against GBV.
Across all our operations, we prioritize two mutually reinforcing objectives to address GBV:
- Reducing the risk of GBV for all persons of concern
- Ensuring all survivors of GBV have adequate and timely access to quality services that meet their needs
GBV disproportionately affects women and girls, and in situations of displacement, their risk of exposure to GBV increases. We are committed to continuously strengthening coordination and programming to protect women and girls from GBV. We advocate for adequate resources to increase the implementation of quality specialized programmes for women and girls.
We also work with male survivors of sexual violence and survivors with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities (SOGI) through specialized programming to respond to their specific needs.
Learn how you can further support UNHCR’s work to prevent, mitigate risks of, and respond to gender-based violence on our dedicated Global Focus web page.
- UNHCR Policy on the Prevention of, Risk Mitigation, and Response to Gender-based Violence, 2020 (PDF) (Available in Arabic, French and Spanish)
- UNHCR Strategic Directions 2022-2026
- Tackling Sexual Abuse and Abuse and Sexual Harassment, 2020 – 2022 Strategy and Action Plan (PDF)
- UNHCR Policy on Age, Gender and Diversity, 2018
- UNHCR Gender Based Violence Toolkit
- Forced Displacement and Violence Against Women: A Policy Brief
- Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement (GDFD) Research Program
- UNHCR's Safeguarding Individuals webpage on women
- UNHCR's webpage on our fight against sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment
- Participation & Engagement with Organizations led by Forcibly Displaced and Stateless Persons | The Global Compact on Refugees | UNHCR (globalcompactrefugees.org)
- Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict (United Nations website)
- The Inter-Agency Minimum Standards for Gender-based Violence in Emergencies Programming, 2019
- GBV AoR Handbook for Coordinating GBV in Emergencies, 2019
- Women and Girls Safe Spaces: A Toolkit for Advancing Women's and Girls' Empowerment in Humanitarian Settings, IRC & IMC, 2019
- Inter-Agency GBV Case Management Guidelines, 2017
- IASC Guidelines for Integrating GBV Interventions in Humanitarian Action, 2015
- IASC Pocket Guide – How to support survivors of GBV when a GBV actor is not available in your area
- IASC Cash and Voucher Assistance and GBV Compendium: A Practical Guidance for Humanitarian Practitioners