Gender-based violence (GBV) is a powerful example of how gender influences health and equity. Intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence are the most common forms of gender based violence experienced by women and girls regardless of country. The global acceptance of violence in the home and in public reflects restrictive gender and social norms, and is thus a critical metric of women’s equity. Globally, an estimated 1 in 3 women experience violence by a husband/intimate partner in their lifetime, while men are more likely to be assaulted by a stranger or acquaintance than a wife or intimate partner (WHO, 2005). The multiple consequences of violence are both immediate and long lasting with negative health (e.g. injuries, sexually transmitted infections, depression, chronic pain), economic (e.g. loss of employment, insecure housing) and social (e.g. isolation, stigma) consequences for the woman, her children, family and community (Campbell, 2002). Gender-based violence is not limited to women; and includes violence perpetrated based on sex, gender identity, or perceived adherence to socially defined gender norms; thus victims include populations who are high risk, marginalized, or criminalized, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender population and sex workers (USAID and Department of State, 2012). Lifting the stigma that stems from lack of adherence to socially-defined gender norms may also support gender equity, health, and justice. Social identities and related systems of power, oppression and discrimination can intersect; gender identity and other biological, social and cultural characteristics, such as sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration, caste or economic status interact on multiple levels (individual, family, community, institutions, and society) to constrain gender and health equity.
The intersectionality of oppression, power and discrimination and the negative impact on gender and health equity is uniquely evident in humanitarian settings. The displaced population globally continues to grow in parallel with the size of the population displaced by conflict, which is presently estimated at 59.5 million forcibly displaced worldwide (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, 2015). Women and girls are especially vulnerable to gender-based violence. They are forced to leave their homes to seek shelter from conflict or crisis in camps or informal settlements, often isolated from family and living with little resources to provide for safety.
Proposed Research Priorities
- How can we reduce gender based discrimination and violence, and mitigate health impact, acting across levels of social determinants?
- What health and equity gains can be achieved through enhancing empowerment for gender-marginalized groups?
- How can we design, promote, implement and evaluate local or national programs / policies to promote gender and health equity?
- How can we design, promote, implement and evaluate equitable health systems?
- How can we best address and promote gender and health equity in humanitarian settings?
- What are the implementation barriers and facilitators to meaningful social change in this area, and how can they be addressed?