A Comprehensive Guide for NGOs Working with Gender-Based Violence


By Janou Hooykaas


Gender-based violence (GBV) can be defined as any act that causes physical, sexual or emotional harm and reinforces gender inequality. Women are disproportionately affected by GBV (although it applies to men and boys, as well), yet women’s rights issues remain hugely underfunded with the majority of aid still reaching males. GBV is an issue that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world and has particular implications for those holding a marginalized racial, ethnic, class, indigenous, or disabled status. Thus, to effectively combat GBV it is essential to recognize that this problem is central to all humanitarian issues (e.g. emergency relief, health, education, etc.) and not just those focused on gender. In this guide you will find information on some of the major issues within GBV, basic grant-application tips, 15 foundations that fund initiatives fighting GBV, and a list of networks and resources.

Child Marriage

According to the global partnership “Girls Not Brides,” around 14 million girls under 18 (sometimes as young as 8) are married each year. Girls who are forced into child marriages face increased risk of encountering domestic violence, experiencing complications and /or fatality during pregnancy and childbirth, and contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Additionally, they are denied access to education and in the vast majority of cases live in lifelong poverty.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The World Health Organization estimates that between 125 and 150 million women and girls alive today have experience female genital mutilation (FGM), which involves the partial or complete removal and, in some cases, reshaping of external female genitalia. This practice has no proven health benefits and puts women at risk for hemorrhaging, infection (including HIV), infertility, complications during childbirth, cysts, and various other physical and psychological problems. Cultures that practice FGM believe it is necessary for social acceptance, hygiene, and controlling female sexual desire. FGM is performed in 28 countries across Africa, as well as in parts of the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is considered a violation of human rights and a form of sex discrimination, as nearly all victims are female. Sexually exploited women and girls are often experience various violations, including but not limited to forced sex with pimps and customers, beatings, and forced abortions. Sexual exploitation is hugely underreported because victims fear stigmatization, are threatened with violence and deprivation of food or money, lack faith in institutions, or have limited access to legal services or knowledge about how to navigate them.

Honor Killings

In some honor-based societies individuals are punished by death for violating cultural and religious norms. Women and LGBT identified people are disproportionately affected by this custom, as this punishment is carried out for individuals who have been raped, refuse suitors, have extra-marital sexual relations, seek divorce, or engage in homosexual acts. These killings are often carried out through stoning, shooting, burning, and live burial. Husbands and male family members who commit these killings often escape punishment or face reduced sentences because these crimes are viewed as socially acceptable in certain areas.

Sexual and Domestic Violence

One in three women will encounter sexual violence in her lifetime, and every year millions of children are sexually abused. Sexual abuse results in a range of damaging physical and emotional effects, including: depression, suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, reproductive health issues, and potential exposure to sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Sexual and domestic violence simultaneously results from and reproduces low levels of education, exposure to and normalization of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and a culture that subordinates women and girls.

Conflict Zones and Natural Disasters

Areas affected by conflict and natural disasters also see high rates of GBV. Violent rape and torture is often used as a weapon in warzones, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, and can result in severe injuries and trauma. Natural disasters also put women at high risk for sexual assault; a March 2010 UNFPA survey in Port-au-Prince, Haiti found that 3% of the city’s population had been sexually assaulted in the three months that had passed since the January 12th, 2010 earthquake had struck. Individuals in war and disaster zones may have difficulty accessing potentially life-saving medical, legal, and mental health services after surviving GBV.

How NGOs Can Help

Many steps can be taken to support victims of GBV, no matter the focus of your NGO’s work. NGOs have the potential to end violence by getting involved in research, advocating for policy reform, addressing GBV through reproductive health and humanitarian relief programs, educating men and boys about gender equity, shifting attitudes about violent behavior, working with spiritual and cultural leaders, and reaching out to the most vulnerable populations.

How Do I Use this Information?

  • To start, conduct research on the foundation: find out if they are active in your region, whether they fund the specific cause your NGO is involved with, and what projects they have funded in the past.
  • Make sure the donor organization exercises values that align with those of your NGO, as under some circumstances accepting funding may entail certain risks. Click here for more information on gift acceptance policies.
  • Network with the donor over the phone or in person to learn more about their priorities and criteria for grant applications.
  • If the organization is interested in what you do and requests an application, develop a letter of inquiry, concept note, or brief proposal as per their instructions.

15 Donors for Causes Fighting Gender-Based Violence

  1. ABILIS Foundation
  2. Astraia Female Leadership Foundation
  3. CBD Charitable Trust
  4. Channel Foundation
  5. Comic Relief
  6. Diakonia
  7. Europe AID
  8. Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD)
  9. Global Fund for Women
  10. Greenbaum Foundation
  11. Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
  12. International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
  13. Mama Cash
  14. Sigrid Rausing Trust
  15. Relief International


NGOs Working in the Field and Their Partners

Medica Zenica

Medica Zenica provides psycho-social and medical support to women who have been affected by sexual violence, torture, war violence, and sexual exploitation.


Christlicher Friedensdienst cfd Switzerland, Foundation Open Society Institute, UN Women-Project office in BiH, medica mondiale  Germany, Louis Leitz Stiftung Germany, Women’s World Day of Prayer Germany, King Badouin Foundation, GIZ, Uni Credit Bank and Uni Credit Foundation, Mozaik Foundation, NARKO-NE, Zenica Doboj Canton, Zenica Municipality, Ministry of Security BiH, Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees BiH, Save the Children International, UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina, Webster Humanitarian Association.


Promundo is a Brazilian organization that engages men and boys in education about gender equality and prevention of violence against women.


MenEngage, RHEG-Network of Men for Gender Equity, Intercambios, Don’t Hit, Educate, Sports Network for Social Change, Early Childhood National Network, Popular Forum for the Defense of Children and Adolescents, Rio de Janeiro State Youth Forum

Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling

Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling is a non-profit, non-governmental feminist organization that addresses gender-based violence in Palestine.


OXFAM-NOVIB (Dutch Organisation for International Development), The Representative Office of Norway, Dan Church Aid Middle East, Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service- Protestant Agency for Diakonia and Development, Foundation Open Society Institute, Human Rights & International Humanitarian Law Secretariat – (WCLAC benefits from joint funds and indirect partnership with the governments of Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden), Caritas Switzerland, Drosos Foundation, European Union, United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), BroederlijkDelen, Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The German Representative Office, Representative Office of Canada to the Palestinian Authority, Women’s World Day of Prayer, Donor Direct Action

Additional Resources



    thank very much for the vital information shared. we are local based NGO searching for funding on Gender, Health, Justice and Advocacy. we will be grateful for any support to raise awareness and strengthen the capacity of the venerable in our society.

  2. Umar Farouk Musa says:

    Ours is a National NGO (Nigerian Aid Group of J.N.I.) working in Nigeria in the area of Reproductive and Sexual Health, OVCs, Conflict Resolution and Management, HIV&AIDS as well as many more.
    We are looking for Support or Grants to enable us reach across many communities.

  3. Kgotso Moses says:

    Crown of Glory Mission is a Home Community Based Care organization looking for funding for its overall operation of health care

  4. We are National NGO working in pakistan in the field of GBV and we would like to apply for the small grant
    kindly guide us

  5. northern uganda social network says:

    Thanks for what you are doing we too need funding to support us grow since we empower women, girls,and youth in war affected areas in life skills training so please guide us on how to apply for a small grant.

  6. Mukama Geoffrey Masaure says:

    We are a newly established young prospective voluntary NGO known as Fast Action for Social Transformation (FAST) in Tanzania based in Musoma, Mara Region, working with underprivileged and vulnerable and inadequately served communities, addressing cross-cutting issues of social and economic nature including GBV, HIV/AIDS, STIs, disabilities and OVCs to mentioned but a few. GBV is rampant in this part of Tanzania and communities here, especially women and girls need immediate rescue to restore their human dignity.
    Supporting NGOs involved in GBV is an opportunity that has been long called for by FAST. We kindly ask your good office to furnish us with adequate information to enable us apply for support to that end.
    With kind regards;
    Mukama Geoffrey Masaure;
    FAST – CEO.

  7. Sarfraz Hussain Kazmi says:

    Thanks to share very useful information and links, keep doing good work.

  8. Khadiga Eltazi says:

    Thank you for this useful guidlines we are working in GBV in many areas especially conflict areas in Sudan

  9. Shahid Mallick says:

    I am teach Gender Studies and Feminist Thoughts at Gono University in Bangladesh. At undergraduate and graduate level students. I am thinking to develop of a project to develop gender sensitive active citizen and I thought university is the best place to start …. do you have any advise … how to begin

  10. UBAID LAKHIAR says:

    we are working through SPEED ( Society for People’s Education & Environment Development ) not for profit NGO in Pakistan.we have working experience more than 27 years . we have mainly focused on GBV . We intend to apply and work with international partner. Thanks & Regards

  11. RUMINIGA Michel says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing these very important information, for upcoming new information please inform us

  12. Mohamed Buwe Nur says:

    We are community based organization called LOSHPFIN in Somalia and we are grateful to hear such fascinating information from your esteemed Office. It is Great chance for supporting small NGOs involved in GBV.We wish to apply for support. Please provide us with more information that would enable us get support.

    Thanks with Kind regards,
    Mohamed Buwe Nur
    LOSHPFIN Director General

  13. vumya farouq says:

    we are indeed grateful for that wonderful information about GBV as they are the real issues taking place in some of our countries so to get to know the detailed bit of it and how we can combat or even completely getting rid of GBV, please provide us with more information and materials to work on such issues especially in uganda.
    vumya farouq
    for united youth association (UYA)

  14. Mulindwa Benjamin says:

    We are a Community Based Organization in Uganda Jinja district working directly with women, youths and children and addressing cross cutting issues of HIV/AIDS, gender balance and disabilities. Our focus on partnerships with development partners brings us to a conclusion that many are interested in large organizations regardless of whether they are directly benefiting the communities or not. So the smaller ones are not given priority yet we deal directly with the communities and are situated within them so we request to be preferred if GBV is to be combated because we lack funds that is why we have no track records like the big organizations.

  15. ABIWU VIVIAN says:

    Great ideas for supporting small NGOs engaged in GBV. Health and Development Management Program (HDM Program) is working in selected districts in the Volta Region of Ghana. We wish to apply for support. Please provide us with more information that would enable us get support. Thanks


  16. Akol ABIONG says:

    We are National NGO working in South Sudan in the field of GBV and we would like to apply for the small grant

    • Marie Michelle Pierre says:

      We are Mental Health Federation working to promote mental health awareness in Mauritius and Rodrigues