Health Policy Project

The Health Policy Project has ended, but work continues under a new USAID five-year project, Health Policy Plus (HP+).

Gender-Based Violence

Ami Vitale/The World Bank 



Gender-based violence (GBV) is a challenge of epidemic proportions. It is one of the most pervasive and widespread human rights violations in the world, and has grave consequences for health and development.

Stemming from persistent gender inequalities, GBV manifests itself in various forms of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, and financial abuse and discrimination, including intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, intimidation and threats of violence, human trafficking, and harmful traditional practices such as early marriage and female genital cutting. While GBV predominantly affects women and girls, it also affects boys, men, and sexual minorities.

The harm caused by GBV extends far beyond the physical injuries inflicted. GBV is linked to a wide range of long-term physical and mental health problems. It helps fuels the spread of HIV, and women who have experienced violence are up to three times more likely to be infected with HIV than those who have not.[1] Fear of GBV may also keep people from accessing family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) services, thereby increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy. High rates of GBV during pregnancy endanger the health of both mother and child and contribute to maternal and child mortality. GBV also undermines progress toward broader development goals, reducing women’s ability to take an active role in social and economic development and inflicting costs in the form of higher health expenditures and lost educational achievement and productivity.[2]

What We Do

The Health Policy Project (HPP) works with a broad range of stakeholders to address the linkages between GBV, HIV, maternal health, and FP/RH. Our partners include male and female advocates, civil society organizations, policymakers, and community and religious leaders. We

  • Promote the adoption of supportive policies to address GBV
  • Facilitate the integration of GBV strategies into government and civil society programs and plans
  • Raise awareness of the connection between GBV and other key health priorities
  • Encourage civil society engagement on GBV issues
  • Strengthen key capacities, such as social participation, coalition building, advocacy, and policy monitoring to enhance government and civil society responses to GBV
  • Work to reduce the occurrence of GBV in facility-based maternal care

Strengthening Capacity to Integrate GBV Strategies into HIV Policies and Programs 

HPP works to strengthen the capacity of host-country stakeholders, including civil society organizations and local and national government bodies, to incorporate GBV and gender strategies into their HIV programs. These efforts include raising stakeholders’ awareness of linkages between GBV and HIV, integrating GBV and gender into HIV prevention and orphans and vulnerable children programs, mapping community services to strengthen GBV referral networks, and addressing the unique GBV vulnerabilities of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

Promoting Respectful Maternity Care

While many interventions aim to improve access to skilled birth care, less attention has been focused on the quality of such care. Women often encounter widespread disrespect and abuse in facility-based maternity care. HPP is partnering with the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood to promote respectful maternity care for all women during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the time after birth.

Publications and Resources

Health Policy Project Gender-Based Violence Activities and Accomplishments - 2012

Brief: Violence Against Women - A Summary of Issues, Interventions, and Evidence
An overview examining how gender-based violence increases the risk of HIV, as part of What Works for Women and Girls: Evidence for HIV/AIDS Interventions. (PDF)

Integrating Gender and Gender-Based Violence into HIV Programs: Mozambique Workshop Report
This workshop applied five participatory and interactive modules to build the capacity of participants to use practical skills and tools to integrate GBV prevention and responses into existing HIV programs.

Story from the Field: Evidence - It's What Works
Data from new website used to urge policymakers to address gender-based violence, improve health and HIV services for vulnerable women in Kenya.

Respectful Maternity Care Charter and Advocacy Materials
The Respectful Maternity Care Charter and advocacy materials build a strong positive global standard to affirm the legitimacy of maternal health rights as basic human rights issues grounded in key international declarations. The charter, poster, and brochure are available in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

[1] UNAIDS, AIDS Epidemic Update (Geneva: UNAIDS, 2009); and Population Reference Bureau,The World's Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet (Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, 2011).

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The Health Policy Project is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-10-00067, beginning September 30, 2010. The project's HIV-related activities are supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). It is implemented by Futures Group, in collaboration with Plan International USA, Avenir Health (previously Futures Institute), Partners in Population and Development, Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO), Population Reference Bureau (PRB), RTI International, and White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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