Ensuring a focus on sexual and gender-based violence in justice and security programmes

Research reports and studies
April 2016
Sheelagh Stewart

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) affects a third of all women in their lifetime. It is a problem shared across the world and occurs regardless of level of national or individual prosperity. Despite this, development and foreign policy discourse has historically given insufficient acknowledgement to its severity.

This has changed in recent times and increased interest within official foreign policy and development agencies has coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action and the 15th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. This has created an unprecedented opportunity to make advances against an endemic problem that affects some of the world’s most vulnerable people. However, SGBV is a stubborn and persistent issue and without clarity on how to focus the approach and what to prioritise, it could easily be consigned to the ‘too difficult’ category as the current focus fades.

In reaction to this changing environment, this short report focuses on assisting policy-makers and implementers as they design responses to SGBV. The clearest message from the evidence is that SGBV is a political problem - and that its global incidence and persistence are a function of women's second class status in society. The international community has an unprecedented chance to support survivors of SGBV across the world, and donor agencies have allocated significant funding to these efforts. However, to ensure a focus on SGBV, they need to get political.