Skip to main content

You are here


Gender-based violence: A closer look at the numbers

21 May 2019


Together with the UN and other partners, OCHA is co-hosting an international pledging conference to strengthen efforts to combat gender-based violence including sexual violence in humanitarian crises. Hosted by Norway, the conference also aims to raise much needed funding to ensure that humanitarian partners are equipped to provide the necessary protection and support to survivors, as well as to address the root causes. The conference will take place in Oslo on 23-24 May.

"When I met with displaced women in Ngagam site, Diffa region, Niger, I spoke to 30-year-old woman named Achaitou. She fled Nigeria to N’Gagam with her four young children, and she told me how she survives with help from the UN and partners. She maintains her dignity and retains hope for a better future for her children, but she is terrified of violence by armed groups and often takes her children into the bush at night, risking disease and snakes."
- UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock

Gender-Based Violence in figures

Gender-Based Violence (GBV), sometimes also referred to as Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) is any harmful act of sexual, physical, psychological, mental, and emotional abuse that is perpetrated against a person’s will and that is based on socially ascribed (i.e. gender) differences between males and females.

1 IN 3

women worldwide will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. Men and boys are also targeted


1 IN 5

internally displaced or refugee women living in humanitarian crisis and armed conflict have experienced sexual violence



of global humanitarian funding spent on SGBV prevention and response activities despite their criticality



women and girls of reproductive age are in need of humanitarian assistance in 2019

Sources: World Health Organization, UNFPA, PLOS Currents

A global challenge


The data in the 2018 Report of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict is limited to incidents of sexual violence in conflict verified by the United Nations in 19 countries and does not account for the vast number of unreported incidents that happen across the world.

SGBV is a global challenge that is triggered and exacerbated in humanitarian crises. But rape, sexual slavery, trafficking, forced and early marriage, and intimate partner violence happen everywhere, causing tremendous suffering and threatening peace and development. This demands a strengthened global response.

This is why the conference aims to generate new commitments by States to ensure the safety and dignity of their citizens. This is done by establishing and enforcing policy norms and legal frameworks regarding gender equality and SGBV. The conference will also reinforce the importance of the Call to Action to End GBV in Emergencies and generate momentum towards the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent linked to resolution 3 on SGBV.

Severe underfunding

Despite its criticality, it is estimated than less than 1 percent of funding to UN humanitarian plans supports GBV prevention and response activities. We must do better to fund GBV prevention and response work.

In 2019, humanitarian partners have requested $1.234 billion for critical protection activities. To date, less than 10 per cent of the funding has been received.

Source: FTS

The work is vital and twofold:

  1. Response to SGBV - Life-saving services must be made available from Day 1 of a crisis, through all phases of an emergency. Survivors need healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health services, mental health and psychosocial support, legal assistance, livelihood support, and justice.
  2. Prevention of SGBV - Greater focus is required on working with governments to support them in fulfilling their obligation to improve policies and legal frameworks, train military and legal personnel, and on engaging with non-state armed groups to uphold international humanitarian law obligations, especially in protracted crises. To prevent and mitigate the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, all humanitarian sectors must take SGBV risks into account and work with relevant stakeholders, including national counterparts, UN agencies, national and international NGOs to ensure an effective response that puts survivors at the centre with respect for their rights, choices, safety and dignity.

Within the UN system, UNFPA leads the GBV Area of Responsibility, the global forum for coordination and collaboration on GBV prevention and response activities in humanitarian and IDP settings under the IASC protection cluster. To specifically meet SGBV needs, UNFPA is appealing for a total of $157 million ($148 million for programmes and $9 million for coordinating the GBV Area of Responsibility) to cover gaps in SGBV work. Yet, to date funding remains inadequate.

The above chart shows the funding required and funding received. Sources: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. To access the data in the chart, please visit the Humanitarian Data Exchange website. The UNFPA Humanitarian Action Overview shows received funding as a proportion of the total required funding across appeal countries was 41% in 2015, 51% in 2016, 51% in 2017 and 48% in 2018. Humanitarian financing estimates are based on joint planning processes (including humanitarian response plans and regional refugee response and resilience plans that involve multiple organizations and stakeholders) and agency-specific (UNFPA) emergency response plans at country level.