End Violence against Women

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) may be the most widespread violation of human rights worldwide, globally affecting one in three women in her lifetime, with most of this violence perpetrated by an intimate partner.[1] In Asia and the Pacific, VAWG remains unacceptably high and severe. Over 37 per cent of women in South Asia, 40 per cent of women in South East Asia and 68 per cent of women in the Pacific have experienced violence at the hands of their partners.[2] VAWG is a major impediment to women’s empowerment, gender equality and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.  VAWG devastates lives, fractures families and communities, and stalls development. Women are vulnerable to violence as a result of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequalities, including age, ethnicity, caste, poverty, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, indigeneity, nationality, immigration status and other.

Violence against women and girls is firmly rooted in deeply ingrained patriarchal, cultural and religious norms in society and institutions place a lower value on women and girls and contribute to high levels of acceptance of violence by both men and women, allowing it to continue, often unchallenged. Violence against women and girls occurs at home, in workplaces, in public spaces and online, and can culminate in femicide, the murder of women and girls. Violence against women and girls can be committed by intimate partners, family members, friends, employers, community members, and even the state and government, among others.

Violence against women and girls takes many forms that include, but are not limited to:[3]

  • Physical violence: Intentional use of physical force with the potential to cause physical harm, injury, disability, and in the most severe cases death
  • Sexual violence: any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of the perpetrator’s relationship to the victim or the setting
  • Psychological abuse: behaviour that is intended to intimidate and persecute, and takes the form of threats of abandonment and/or abuse, surveillance, constant humiliation, verbal aggression, and others
  • Economic violence: Acts that deny a woman access to and control over basic resources, or causes or attempts to cause an individual to become financially dependent on another person, by obstructing their access to or control over resources and/or independent economic activity.

Violence against women and girls has devastating physical, emotional, financial, and social impacts on women, children, and communities. For instance:

  • It negatively affects women’s sense of self-worth, their general well-being and overall quality of life. Violence has serious negative consequences ranging from immediate to long-term physical, psychological and mental health effects and sexual and reproductive problems.
  • It affects the full participation of women and girls in education, employment, politics and civic life, and impedes their access and control over resources – increasing poverty and inequality.
  • Violence has also serious inter-generational effects: children from households where violence is perpetrated have lower job performance, stability and earnings in later life,[4] and are at greater risk of engaging in violent behaviour. [5]

Violence against women and girls is a major impediment to women’s economic empowerment and sustainable development. Violence, both at home and at the workplace, carries varied and considerable costs to affected individuals, their families, communities, businesses and societies. The costs of violence against women include lost productivity, costs for police and justice agencies, health care, social protection, welfare and education systems. Globally, VAWG is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) due to loss of incomes, opportunities and workplace productivity.[6] Intimate partner violence has been calculated to cost the world economy more than USD $8 trillion a year.[7] In Viet Nam, the persistence of intimate partner violence has resulted in a total loss of earnings equivalent to an estimated 3 per cent of the country’s GDP. In Bangladesh, the cost of violence against women for individuals and families was estimated to 2.1 per cent of the GDP or US$ 2.3 billion per year.[8] Women who experience intimate partner violence are more likely to be in part-time and vulnerable work and their earnings are 60 per cent lower than women who do not experience violence.[9] Women subjected to violence experience a in loss of income and increased personal costs, due to the cost of seeking assistance and days off work.

Click here to learn more about the costs of violence and click here to learn more about workplace responses to intimate partner violence in Asia and the Pacific.

In Asia and the Pacific, 31 out of 39 countries have laws against gender-based violence, yet it remains widespread, especially among spouses and intimate partners. Thirty-eight per cent of women experience violence during their lifetimes. The vast majority of cases go unnoticed, unreported and unpunished because of cultural acceptance, inadequate resources, and limited capacity or willingness of service providers to enforce the laws.

UN Women in Action 

Facts and Figures

Creating and Implementing Laws

Creating Safe Public Spaces

Essential Services for Women 

Preventing Violence against Women

Raising Awareness

Addressing Violence against Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Highlighted Resources


Highlighted Videos

How you can combat domestic violence during COVID-19

Cindy Bishop explains #ShadowPandemic

16 Days of Activism 2018 | Sia Watcharapon Kukaewkasem's story at Equality Talk

"Kiss with a Fist" at Dragonfly360 Wo=Men Summit 2019

Lakeer: Draw a line to End Violence Against Women and Girls | UN Women India MCO

16Days of Activism 2018 #HearMeToo | UN Women Indonesia


[1] World Health Organization (2017), “Violence against women: factsheet”, available: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women
[2]The World Health Organization, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and South African Medical Research Council (2013). ‘Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence’ p 16, 20
[3]UN Women (2018) ASEAN Regional Guidelines on violence against women and girls data collection and use
[4]Taylor G., Bell E., Jacboson J., Pereznieto P. (2015). DFID Guidance Note - Part A, Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls Through DFID’s Economic Development and Women’s Economic Empowerment Programmes.
[5]WHO (2014). Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014.
[6] The World Bank (2019). Social development brief: Gender based violence (violence against women and girls).
[7]Centre for Disease Control (2003). Cost of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States
[8]CARE Bangladesh (2011).
[9]World Bank (2015). Women, Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal

Shadow Pandemic