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The Issue

Violence against women and girls is everybody’s issue.


Every girl and every woman has the right to live free from violence, discrimination, intimidation or abuse.


Yet today, violence denies millions of women and girls around the world this right. Violence against women and girls remains one of the most persistent, systematic and widespread human rights violations.

Every year, 12 million girls get married before the age of 18

Source: UNICEF

Child marriage threatens girls' health and well-being, and forces them out of education, trapping them in a cycle of poverty. The practice is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are less valuable than their male counterparts.

Poverty is one of the exacerbating factors, and more than half of girls from the poorest families in developing countries are married as children.

As many as 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives

Source: WHO

Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.

Nearly half of all sexual assaults are committed against girls who are younger than 16.

More than 246 million children are subjected to gender-based violence in or around schools every year


School-related gender-based violence involves acts or threats of sexual, physical or psychological violence occurring in and around schools. Adolescent girls, girls from poorer families, and other marginalised groups, are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation at the hands of school personnel.

This reflects socially ingrained gender-based power inequalities which exist both inside and outside the classroom.

More than 70% of human trafficking victims globally are women and girls; 3 out of 4 trafficked girls and women are sexually exploited

Source: UNODC

Human trafficking is the acquisition and exploitation of people, through means such as force, fraud or deception.

The practice ensnares millions of women and girls, many of whom are sexually exploited.

Why does it happen?


Violence against women and girls is rooted in the structural inequality in power relations between women and men. Harmful social and gender norms mean women and girls are considered less valuable than their male counterparts, and perpetuate men’s control and sense of entitlement over women and girls.


Violence against women and girls can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. It persists in every country and can occur in private and public spaces regardless of age, education or socioeconomic status. There is nothing that justifies it and it is never the target’s fault.

What is the impact?


Violence denies women and girls their right to fulfil their potential and live the life they choose. It has immediate and long-term physical, sexual and mental health consequences, and prevents girls and women from fully participating in society.


When women and girls are empowered and given equal opportunities, free from violence, they can exercise their rights and drive forward sustainable development – for themselves, their family, community and country.

How can we end it?


Ending violence against women and girls in the long-term is complex. It requires interventions across sectors and levels to tackle the deeply-rooted gender inequality which fuels it.


But it can be stopped, and everybody has a role to play. Individually and collectively, we must become positive bystanders, standing up for the rights of women and girls and pro-actively speaking out against discrimination and abuse.


By calling out harmful behaviours and attitudes, we will challenge the ingrained norms and inequalities which perpetuate violence.


Promoting positive masculinity, which includes being kind, respective and emotional, will also help create a cultural shift in which to be a man does not mean being violent.

Take Action

Take the pledge

We are determined to end violence against women and girls now. Are you with us? Then take our pledge and prove it!

Spread the word

We need everybody to take action to help end violence against women and girls. Help spread the word now!


Have you been affected by violence, discrimination, intimidation or abuse? Whether you have experienced violence yourself or are concerned about somebody else, there are many services available to support you.


If you are a young person, don’t forget you can talk to a trusted adult or friend about the issue, and seek further support and assistance through your local children’s organisation.


You can learn more about the issue by visiting the UN Women, UNFPA and UNDP websites.