CARE defines gender-based violence (GBV) as: A harmful act or threat based on a person’s sex or gender identity. It includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; coercion; denial of liberty; and economic deprivation, whether occurring in public or private spheres. GBV is rooted in unjust power relations, structures, and social/cultural norms.
GBV is a critical rights violation committed against people based on their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. GBV itself is often used as a tool to dominate and intimidate and to reinforce gender-based inequalities among groups – for example, family and peer pressures, policies and programs that criminalize certain sexualities, or patriarchal social norms that perpetuate child marriage.
In CARE’s experiences, GBV has been used to prevent people from entering the work force or making choices about their lives (including decisions related to sexual and reproductive health, the right to bodily integrity, the right to education, food and nutrition, etc.).
GBV is a consequence of patriarchal norms, practices, laws, and policies that govern our lives across social, economic, and political lines. This in turn results in social and political exclusion, conflict, gender inequality, and poverty. GBV can undermine the effectiveness of health, education, agriculture, and other programs – for instance, when the threat of violence keeps certain people from participating in or accessing services based on their gender status or sexuality. In some cases, development interventions can also trigger violence, such as when women’s income, public participation, or mobility are perceived as threatening and cause backlash in households. Given how interventions across sectors interact with people of different genders, monitoring, mitigating, and responding to GBV is important for ethical and effective programming in all of development and humanitarian work.
CARE works to address multiple forms of GBV, including:
- Intimate partner relationships and violence
- Child, early, and forced marriage and other harmful traditional practices
- Social norms related to toxic masculinities, homophobia, and transphobia
- Gendered economic exploitation and exclusion