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.
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 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.
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
- ABILIS Foundation
- Astraia Female Leadership Foundation
- CBD Charitable Trust
- Channel Foundation
- Comic Relief
- Europe AID
- Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD)
- Global Fund for Women
- Greenbaum Foundation
- Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
- International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
- Mama Cash
- Sigrid Rausing Trust
- Relief International
- The Coalition for Adolescent Girls
- The Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project
- Gender and Development Network
- Gender-Based Violence Area of Responsibility
- Girls Not Brides
- Safe World Community
- Western Cape Network on Violence Against Women
- Women Against Violence Europe
NGOs Working in the Field and Their Partners
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 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
- Amnesty International on Violence Against Women
- Girls Not Brides Child Marriage Infographic
- Equality Now Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet
- Honor Diaries Honor Violence Fact Sheet
- UNFPA Report on Gender-Based Violence
- UNICEF Sexual Violence Fact Sheet
- UNODC Report on Human Trafficking
- Save the Children Report on Underreporting of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
- World Health Organization Female Genital Mutilation Fact Sheet