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What is Gender-Based Violence?

Gender-based violence (GBV) can take place anywhere, including at home, at school, within communities, in public institutions and at work. It is a form of discrimination that inhibits women's and girls' ability to enjoy their inherent rights and freedoms.

GBV can be defined as a structural problem that is deeply embedded in unequal power relationships between men and women and disproportionately affects women. Child, early or forced marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, early and forced pregnancy are some examples of types of GBV that affect girls and women throughout their lives.

Different forms of gender-based violence affect women throughout their life and they include: physical violence, sexual violence, psychological or emotional violence, economic violence.

Why does GBV happen?


Unequal power relations: Gender-based violence is inflicted by abusers who believe that their sex or gender entitles them to use (or threaten to use) force or power over someone else with the intent to cause them harm or control their behaviour.


Low social status and value of women and girls (and people who do not conform to the gender binary)


Gender stereotypes and norms that justify violence


Because it is often condoned or perpetrated by governments as "normal".

What is Plan International Canada doing to combat GBV?

Because gender-based violence stems from unequal power relations between women and girls and men and boys, Plan International Canada’s programs transform gender relations by encouraging boys and girls and women and men to enjoy power with each other, rather than power over each other. Our thematic projects such as health* Training health providers on GBV response and referrals.   , education* Gender responsive education sector plans; pedagogy and teacher training with focus on preventing and addressing GBV.   , child protection* Training of police, judges and child protection service providers on GBV and mobilizing community child protection systems for the prevention and response to GBV.   , humanitarian assistance* Provide psychosocial counselling and support for victims of GBV.   , and advocacy work directly address GBV and focus on changing not just the social conditions in which women and girls live, but their social positions.

We apply this approach through activities like:

  • Advocating with lawmakers and/or community leaders to promote gender equality, and to challenge GBV including practices like child, early or forced marriage.
  • Establishing and facilitating safe spaces and clubs:
    • For adolescent girls and boys where they are taken through a self-reflection journey of change and can openly discuss sensitive topics like self-esteem, sexuality and relationships to instill gender equitable attitudes and behaviours.
    • For women that discuss gender equality and tackle gender norms and widely held negative gender stereotypes that contribute to GBV
    • For men to reflect on gender inequality, negative masculinity to champion gender equality and tackle GBV (In order to change and tackle unequal power relations, we target and systematically engage men and boys.)


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