Sexual and reproductive health

Global plan of action to strengthen role of health systems in addressing interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children

Photo montage
Photos:UNICEF

Women and girls bear an enormous burden of violence that is rooted in gender inequality. Such violence is often hidden and stigmatized and also often socially sanctioned. Health and other institutions are slow to recognize and address this violence and services are often not available. Until recently, violence against women and girls has also been largely invisible within national and international statistics and surveillance systems.

Strengthening the health-systems response to violence against women

21 November 2014 - Every single day, women and girls across the world face violence. According to a new series co-authored by WHO, which is published in The Lancet today, efforts must be dramatically stepped up to address this global problem – which includes intimate partner violence, rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and forced marriage, and which has serious consequences for victims’ physical and mental health. The new WHO clinical handbook, Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence, to be published online for field-testing on 24 November, will provide practical information to health-care providers, to accelerate progress towards tackling this issue.

World Health Assembly adopts a historic resolution that addresses violence against women and girls

Photo of Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia giving a speech at the World Health Assembly
Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia at the 67th World Health Assembly

20 MAY 2014 – Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia, addressed delegates at the World Health Assembly and deplored the prevalence of violence against women and girls and the extent to which cases of violence remain hidden and unrecognized. Member States adopted a resolution on “Strengthening the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children” at the 67th World Health Assembly.

Violence against women (VAW)

Sexual violence

Sexual violence is a serious public health and human rights problem with both short- and long-term consequences on women's physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health.

VAW and HIV

Image of a red HIV ribbon

Growing evidence shows that violence increases women's vulnerability to HIV. HIV can also be a risk factor for violence, since disclosure can put some women at risk of violence by their partners, family or community members.


Prevention and response

To help ensure better care and support for those who have experienced partner violence or sexual violence, WHO works, among other things, to strengthen the health sector response to violence against women.

Related links