Efforts to End Gender-Based Violence are Underfunded Around the World

Experts call it a “global problem of epidemic proportions.” But new research reveals that the global community isn’t taking the necessary actions to address it.

Ugandan police joined with UN Women Uganda, UN in Uganda and SafeBoda to mark the UN’s 16 Days Of Activism with a “safe ride to end violence against women and girls.” (Martin Ninsiima for UN Women / Creative Commons)

The recent report from the International Rescue Committee and Voice found that gender-based violence response and prevention efforts around the world were allocated just $49.8 million between 2016 and 2018 via the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)—a paltry .12 percent of the $41.5 billion in total government and donor humanitarian aid funding.

The problem is compounded for women in disaster-stricken areas. In emergency situations and regions facing conflict, less than $2 is allocated to each woman and girl at risk of rape or abuse. In 2018, the UN Humanitarian Response Plan requested $40 million for 1.5 million Nigerian women and girls at risk, but were given less than 10 percent of their initial ask. In 2016, the Central African Republic (CAR) saw 28,000 reports of sexual violence and requested $28.5 million to combat the issue—but never received a single dollar.

“In this age of Time’s Up and #MeToo and recognition that sexual assault and sexual harassment is prevalent around the world,” Shelby Quast, the Americas Director of Equality Now, told Ms, “it is increasingly clear that legal practices and humanitarian aid are not keeping up with the issues.”

In 2005, combating gender-based violence was recognized as a “life-saving humanitarian intervention” by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. In the years since, numerous initiatives and resolutions have been proposed, signed and acted upon—including UN Resolution 2467, adopted in April of this year. But these efforts have been insufficient. As Quast put it: “Existing laws and policies are simply not addressing what we know the problem is.”

The IRC and Voice laid out three major recommendations to break that cycle.

The authors recommend at least tripling current funding levels and setting up faster funding dispersal systems for that funding. They advise that more resources be made widely available in emergency zones, specifically more GBV specialists that would aid turning discussion of programs into action. They also called for local, existing women-led organizations be supported and included in decision-making and planning processes addressing violence to level the playing field and provide more authority and power to women in the area.

“The evidence before our eyes, from our staff and clients in the places where we work,” IRC CEO David Miliband stated in a speech shortly after the report’s release, “is that we will not be successful in delivering for our female clients until we address the inequalities of power they face.”


Willow Taylor Chiang Yang is a current summer intern for Ms. Magazine, which perhaps gives an idea of her feminist leanings. In addition to being an outspoken women's rights advocate and a proud, politic-loving Asian American, she is the Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper, her grade's Student Council representative and a devotee of convoluted sentence structure. She was also a Senior Project Editor for the Since Parkland Project, and appeared on ABC7's Midday Live.