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Gender-based violence against women and girls

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is the term given to all forms of violence and abuse experienced disproportionately by women and girls, or experienced by them because of their gender, including rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM and sexual harassment.

The United Nations defines it as:

‘Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’

UN definition of violence against women

Nearly a quarter (24.1%) of young adults aged 18-24 report having experienced sexual abuse in childhood (31% of young women and 17.4% of young men)

Child Abuse and Neglect in the UK today, NSPCC, 2011

In 2012-2013, 22,654 sexual offences against under-18s were reported to police in England and Wales with four out of five cases involving girls.

Sexual abuse of under-11s: reports to police rise 16% in 2012-13, NSPCC, 2014

Close to one in three (29%) 16-18-year-old girls say they have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school.

Schools play a vital role in helping young people develop healthy relationships based on equality and respect.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition is a coalition of organisations and individuals campaigning to end all forms of violence against women. They have produced a factsheet for schools which outlines how schools can support these aims from which the following advice is taken:

A whole school approach, including comprehensive SRE teaching as part of PSHE, is needed to support young people and prevent abuse through:

  • Challenging notions of male sexual entitlement;
  • Preventing abusive attitudes and behaviours being reproduced and taking root;
  • Unpicking harmful stereotypes that place responsibility on girls to protect themselves from violence and abuse;
  • Addressing the gendered environment in which young people form attitudes and behaviours and navigate relationships;
  • And acknowledging the scale of violence against women and girls.

Further information on the following related issues is available within this document including links to advice and guidance from Solihull’s Local Safeguarding Children Board. Also explore relevant links in this document: Anti-bullying, Breast ironing, Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), Domestic abuse including domestic violence, Female Genital Mutilation, Forced Marriage, Sexting, Teenage relationship abuse, Trafficking or Inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Additional Information and Resources

A Call to End Violence against Women and Girls
The Home Office Action Plan, , calls for more to be done to “promote the teaching of sexual consent and the importance of healthy relationships in schools”. In response, the PSHE Association have produced guidance for teachers working with pupils at key stages 3 and 4.

Schools Safe 4 Girls factsheet

Plan works with millions of children in 86,000 communities in 51 developing countries across the world and is continuously looking for new ways and opportunities to advance the achievement of gender equality and girls’ rights

Through the Because I am a Girl campaign, Plan‘s projects will address the barriers to girls completing a quality education of at least 9 years, as well as equip them with the assets they need to safe guard their future, promote gender equality and improve their lives.

Updates and changes


These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.