Links between gender-based violence and outbreaks of violent conflict (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1169)

Abstract

Query

What evidence exists for links between gender-based violence and outbreaks of violent conflict?

Key findings

  1. Gender-based violence (GBV) is prevalent in all contexts and countries of the world.
  2. There are studies that quantitatively find a strong correlation between levels of structural/institutional GBV (manifested as gender inequality) and conflict (e.g. Caprioli, 2005, etc). They find that gender inequality increases the likelihood that a state will have internal conflict. Countries with low human rights standards (including on gender inequality) are more likely to have militarised and violent interstate disputes (during the period 1980 to 2001). However, the nature of the relationship is not clear.
  3. There are a few studies that quantitatively find a relationship between interpersonal GBV (the physical security of women) and the relative peacefulness of states. Emerging research has found that countries with high levels of national violence against women and girls (e.g. domestic violence, female infanticide and sex-selective abortion) have been more likely to experience armed conflict than those which do not (Hudson, et al., 2009, in Saferworld, 2013).
  4. Some argue that GBV is a form of violent conflict in itself, and is not necessarily an indicator of future conflict.
  5. Traditional gender identities can be drivers of conflict as men are framed as protectors and fighters, while women are vulnerable and need protecting. During periods of conflict these identities can be accentuated and politicised.
  6. Indicators on gender norms which drive conflict (e.g. violent ideas of masculinity) might be more useful for early warning.
  7. Throughout history, and during conflicts in different parts of the world, there have been incidences where GBV has exacerbated conflict and led to revenge attacks.
  8. Levels of GBV are higher during and after armed conflict. Sexual violence can be part of strategies during in violent conflicts. GBV often does not subside post-conflict. It affects both men and women in different ways.
  9. Sexual and gender-based violence remains the most widespread and serious protection problems facing displaced and returnee women and girls.

Citation

Herbert, S. Links between gender-based violence and outbreaks of violent conflict (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1169). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 11 pp.

Links between gender-based violence and outbreaks of violent conflict (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1169)

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