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Gender equality

Last edited: January 14, 2019

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Violence against women is both a ‘cause and consequence’ of gender inequality and a ‘major impediment to gender equality’ (United Nations Secretary-General, 2006a: 9).  Rape, intimate partner violence, trafficking, early/forced marriage and other forms of violence against women all affect women and girls disproportionately, with perpetrators most likely to be men.  Structural inequalities between women and men, such as the gender pay gap and unequal access to education, employment, resources and political participation, contribute to women’s exposure to violence and limit their access to protection and redress in the aftermath.  For some women and girls, multiple forms of inequality intersect, which further increases the likelihood that they will be exposed to violence (Manjoo, 2011; Muñoz Cabrera, 2010).

Challenging attitudes and practices that condone or support gender inequality and violence against women is an essential part of a coordinated response.  Indeed, one of the first tasks of a coordinated response is to explore the ways in which violence against women and gender inequality intersect in their national and local context and include this in their shared principles.

Coordinated community response teams representing diverse agencies and sectors of the communities can uniquely present a united and powerful message to the entire community that gender inequality is a cause and consequence of violence against women.  That message has great potential for systemic, lasting change for women and girls.

Example: The Scottish national guidance on addressing violence against women through partnerships cites equality between men and women as one of its guiding principles that promotes the end of violence against women. Further, it clearly identifies addressing violence against women as part of public sector duties to combat gender, race and disability inequality.

At national and local levels, policy makers responsible for gender equality should be considered key members of the violence against women coordination response body, thus ensuring that policies on equality and violence against women are well integrated.