What evidence exists for links between gender-based violence and outbreaks of violent conflict?
- Gender-based violence (GBV) is prevalent in all contexts and
countries of the world.
- 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.
- 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).
- Some argue that GBV is a form of violent conflict in itself, and is
not necessarily an indicator of future conflict.
- 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.
- Indicators on gender norms which drive conflict (e.g. violent ideas
of masculinity) might be more useful for early warning.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sexual and gender-based violence remains the most widespread and
serious protection problems facing displaced and returnee women and
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.