Sexual and reproductive health

Consensus on priority indicators on violence against women

Geneva, 23-24 June 2014. The WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research convened an expert meeting to develop a consensus on priority indicators on violence against women to propose for measuring progress towards the target for eliminating violence against women in the post-2015 sustainable development goals.

Counsellor holds the hand of a victim of violence
UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt
A woman sought refuge at a shelter after an incident of spousal abuse saw her hospitalised and referred to a Sexual and Gender Based Violence Co-ordinated Response Centre

Objectives of the meeting

  • Review potential options for indicators on violence against women.
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses and feasibility of measurement of the different indictors.
  • Build consensus among key agencies and partners around possible indicators to be proposed.

The expert meeting was attended by a diverse group of stakeholders including the scientific community involved in violence against women research and surveys, civil society, and UN partners. During the meeting, high-level experts involved in the post-2015 discussions confirmed the support of the UN and Member States to promote the inclusion of a target to end violence against women in the post-2015 framework. Participants agreed on the importance of selecting measurable indicators that are collected in a sustainable and reliable manner and that represent the problem of violence against women at global level.

The group deliberated on indicators that fell into three domains: the magnitude of violence against women, its underlying causes, and State responses to prevent violence and to respond to survivors.

  • For measuring the magnitude of violence against women, there was a consensus to prioritize : the prevalence of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in the last 12 months; and the prevalence of sexual violence by a non-partner.
  • Recognizing the importance of gender inequality as a root cause of violence, the group proposed an indicator on the underlying causes of violence against women, namely: the proportion of people who think it is never justifiable for a man to beat his wife/partner.
  • To capture States responses to violence against women, the group proposed: National budgetary allocation to prevention and response to violence against women. Other possible indicators were: proportion of women who experienced violence in the last 12 months who had sought help from a formal institution; and proportion of reported cases of rape in the last 12 months that are prosecuted.

The final step was to reach consensus on two proposed indicators that should be put forward for global level monitoring of post-2015 target on violence against women. These were:

  • Prevalence of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in the last 12 months as measured by: the proportion of ever-partnered women (15-49) who experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former husband/male intimate partner in the last 12 months; and
  • Prevalence of sexual violence by a non-partner as measured by: the proportion of women (aged 20-29) who have ever experienced sexual violence by a non-partner from the age of 15 on.
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