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Gender-Based Violence

Open government approaches can contribute to combating one of the world’s most prevalent human rights violations—gender-based violence (GBV). Gender-based violence takes many forms. It may be physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and psychological. Women and girls are overwhelmingly the targets of gender-based violence—especially women living in poverty or extremely unequal societies—though this issue also impacts men, boys, and those across the gender and sexuality spectrum. The most prevalent forms of violence are intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual violence (NPSV), though incidents of tech-facilitated gender-based violence and online violence have greatly increased in recent years. This, in turn, can affect women’s political participation and involvement in civic life, including in elections.

Opening government can make systems and services more transparent, accessible, and responsive to the needs of survivors of gender-based violence. They can help prevent violence by ensuring that potential victims and perpetrators understand the law and can access resources. They can help ensure that survivors of violence have access to services and justice mechanisms and the opportunity to shape those services to better address their needs. As evidence grows that collaborative and participatory approaches bear results, governments may also wish to scale up community engagement approaches and improve access to gender data. There must be adequate democratic freedoms, allowing movements, organizations, and individuals to protest, speak to their representatives and the public, and raise issues without fear of retaliation.

Open Gov Challenge: Gender and Inclusion

With OGP’s 2023-2028 Strategy, OGP members are set to work toward a number of aspirational thematic reforms through the Open Gov Challenge. This section of the Open Gov Guide addresses Gender and Inclusion.

Challenge prompt: Adopt open government reforms to promote the full participation of women politically, socially and economically.

Actions and reforms could include:

  • Gender-targeted reforms such as mechanisms to tackle gender-based violence, both online and offline;
  • Mainstreaming gender across other challenge areas (eg anti-corruption, fiscal openness, climate and environment); and
  • Making the design and delivery of reforms participatory and inclusive of impacted communities.

Key Terms

Definitions for key terms such as femicide, gender data, and gendered violence.

  • Femicide: An intentional killing with a gender-related motivation, femicide (or feminicide) may be driven by stereotyped gender roles, discrimination toward women and girls, unequal power relations between women and men, or harmful social norms.
  • Gender data: Also known as “gender statistics,” gender data refers to “data disaggregated by sex as well as data that affects women and girls exclusively or primarily.” According to Data2x, a civil society organization (CSO) working to improve the production and use of gender data, “gender data provides meaningful insight into differences in well-being across women and men, and girls and boys, as well as actionable information for policy to address disparities.”
  • Gendered violence: According to the Australian e-Safety Commissioner, “gendered violence is any form of physical or non-physical violence or abuse against a person or group of people because of biased or harmful beliefs about gender. It can include things that happen online and that use digital technology.”
  • Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): IPV refers to the abuse or killing of a person by their partner or spouse. The most common forms are physical, sexual, financial, or psychological abuse of a person by their partner or spouse.
  • Non-Partner Sexual Violence (NPSV): NPSV refers to acts of sexual violence committed by any person that is not a current or former spouse or intimate partner. NPSV can be perpetrated by a family member, friend, acquaintance, or stranger.

The Evidence

Combating the pervasiveness of gender-based violence requires a whole-of-government approach—including health and legal system improvements, public education about rights and services, economic access, and workplace protections. Open government approaches are core elements to deliver reforms across these strategies.

  • Participatory and collaborative interventions have been shown to be effective ways to prevent and address GBV.The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and UN Women created evidence-basedprograms around the “RESPECT” framework, which focus on community engagement and the empowerment of youth and women’s organizations. Scholars evaluating approaches to combat GBV highlight the importance of participatory methods, such as gender and social empowerment group activities, participatory learning methods, and accessible public information. A separate meta-evaluation by the Global Women’s Institute found that interventions were more effective when they were participatory and multi-sectoral (involving government and non-governmental organizations), which was corroborated by another meta-study.
  • Creating avenues of accountability has been shown to improve outcomes for women and children in particular. A study in Peru found that, in communities with women’s justice centers, reporting of gender-based crimes increased by 40 percent, while gender-based violence, femicides, and female deaths due to aggression declined by 10 percent. Children living in households near a center became significantly more likely to attend school and less likely to drop out.
  • According to UN Women, “Evidence shows that the impacts of online and technology facilitated VAWG [violence against women and girls] can be as serious as ‘offline’ violence,” with negative consequences for health, safety, and civic participation, including political participation. For example, in a 2021 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) survey, 80 percent of women parliamentarians from 50 African countries reported experiencing psychological violence during their mandate, including online threats. IPU also highlighted the role of violence in suppressing women’s political participation across the continent. Addressing this growing threat, especially through open government approaches, is necessary to ensure the full and equal participation of all people in public life.

Reform Guidance

The recommendations below represent reforms that national and local governments, representatives of civil society organizations, and others can consider for their action plans and the Open Gov Challenge. The reforms are categorized according to OGP’s principal values: transparency, civic participation, and public accountability. Reforms should be adapted to fit the domestic context, and involve and coordinate with other levels and branches of government.

Reforms across policy areas are also tagged by the estimated degree of difficulty in implementation. Though progress is often not linear, the recommendations have been categorized using these labels to give the reader a sense of how different reforms can work together to raise the ambition of open government approaches.

Recommended Reforms Key

  • Transparency: Transparency empowers citizens to exercise their rights, hold the government accountable, and participate in decision-making processes. Examples of relevant activities include the proactive or reactive publication of government-held information, legal or institutional frameworks to strengthen the right to access information, and disclosing information using open data standards.

  • Civic Participation: When people are engaged, governments and public institutions are more responsive, innovative, and effective. Examples of relevant initiatives include new or improved processes and mechanisms for the public to contribute to decisions, participatory mechanisms to involve underrepresented groups in policy making, and a legal environment that guarantees civil and political rights.

  • Public Accountability: Public accountability occurs when public institutions must justify their actions, act upon requirements and criticisms, and take responsibility for failure to perform according to laws or commitments. Importantly, public accountability means that members of the public can also access and trigger accountability mechanisms. Examples of relevant activities include citizen audits of performance, new or improved mechanisms or institutions that respond to citizen-initiated appeals processes, and improved access to justice.

  • Inclusion: Inclusion is fundamental to achieving more equitable, representative, and accountable policies that truly serve all people. This includes increasing the voice, agency, and influence of historically discriminated or underrepresented groups. Depending on the context, traditionally underrepresented groups may experience discrimination based on gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, age, geography, differing ability, legal, or socioeconomic status.

  • Foundational: This tag is used for reforms that are the essential building blocks of a policy area. “Foundational” does not mean low ambition or low impact. These recommendations often establish basic legal frameworks and institutional structures.

  • Intermediate: This tag is used for reforms that are complex and often involve coordination and outreach between branches, institutions, and levels of government, with the public or between countries.

  • Advanced: This tag is used for reforms that close important loopholes to make existing work more effective and impactful. Specifically, “Advanced” reforms are particularly ambitious, innovative or close important loopholes to make existing work more effective, impactful or sustainable. They are often applied in mature environments where they seek to institutionalize a good practice that has already shown results.

  • Executive: The executive branch of government is responsible for designing, implementing, and enforcing laws, policies, and initiatives. It is typically led by the head of state or government, such as a president or prime minister, along with their appointed cabinet members. The executive branch’s functions also include overseeing the day-to-day operations of the government, managing foreign affairs, and directing the country’s armed forces. In democratic systems, the executive branch is accountable to the legislature and the electorate, with its powers and limitations outlined in the constitution or legal framework of the respective country.

  • Legislative: The legislative branch of government is responsible for making laws and regulations and overseeing the functioning of the government. It typically consists of a body of elected representatives, such as a parliament, congress, or assembly, which is tasked with proposing, debating, amending, and ultimately passing legislation. The legislative branch plays a crucial role in representing the interests of the people, as its members are elected to office by the public. In addition to law-making, this branch often holds the power to levy taxes, allocate funds, and conduct certain investigations into matters of public concern. The structure and powers of the legislative branch are usually outlined in a country’s constitution or legal framework, and it serves as a check on the executive and judicial branches to ensure a system of checks and balances within a state.

Examples of Reforms from OGP and Beyond

The following examples are commitments previously made within or beyond OGP that demonstrate elements of the recommendations made above. Gender-based violence commitments are a relatively new area of focus for OGP members, with countries in the Americas pioneering reforms in this area.

OGP Reforms
  • ARGENTINA National Measures to Address GBV and Femicide: Successfully published data on the budgets and resources allocated to preventing gender-based violence as part of a national plan, and coordinated trainings with subnational governments and justice officials to ensure implementation of “Micaela’s Law” to prevent femicide.
  • CANADA Gender-Based Violence Knowledge Center: Created a gender-based violence knowledge center to serve as a hub to coordinate federal initiatives under Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, support data collection and research, and disseminate and mobilize GBV-related knowledge and evidence.
  • ECUADOR Plan to Eradicate Violence against Women: Co-created a plan to implement the laws against violence against women, especially around access to justice, which saw major early results in achieving impact.
  • EL KEF, TUNISIA Women’s Access to Information on GBV: Committed to creating an online platform that facilitates women’s access to information and resources, including legal guidance to victims of violence.
  • INDONESIA Public Participation in Drafting Regulations to Address Sexual Violence: Committed to meaningfully engaging the public (especially civil society) in drafting regulations to address sexual violence. The goal of the regulations is to increase access to services for survivors and provide alternative remedies based on survivors’ needs.
  • LIBERIA Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Map: Committed to mapping CSOs that work on preventing GBV and creating a platform to track GBV cases across the country.
  • MONTERREY, MEXICO Committee to Produce GBV Data and Policies: Committed to creating an Open Government Committee for the Unit of Attention to Victims of Familiar Violence and Gender of Monterrey, which would generate data and develop policy to address GBV in the state.
  • MOROCCO Creation of Women’s Centers: Committed to creating multi-disciplinary women’s centers around the country to help ensure access to justice as part of a larger commitment related to women’s participation and economic empowerment.
  • NORTH MACEDONIA Access to Justice for Domestic Violence Survivors: Committed to modernizing the administrative systems and information around the courts and other systems to expand access to justice for domestic violence survivors.
  • SIERRA LEONE Gender Equality Legislation: Passed a Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill, which aims to improve women’s access to employment opportunities, equal pay, and political representation and to increase protections for women and girls against GBV.
  • URUGUAY Gender-Based Violence Open Data:  Established and published standardized data on GBV across two action plans in 2018 and 2022, echoing the work of CSOs like Feminicidio Uruguay to capture data on gender-related violence.
Beyond OGP Action Plans
  • AUSTRALIA e-Safety Commissioner to Protect against Online Abuse: Created an e-Safety Commissioner mandated to receive reports on issues such as cyberbullying and adult cyber abuse and help remove harmful content raised by such reports.
  • BOLIVIA Legal Framework on Violence against Women in Politics (VAWP): Created a legal framework on VAWP, including passing the world’s first and only law specifically on this issue, adopting Electoral Tribunal regulations to process VAWP complaints, and establishing a monitoring body to collect data on VAWP and other indicators.
  • GEORGIA Evidence-Based Policy-Making: Conducted a nationwide study on violence against women in 2017, which included data on sexual harassment and stalking for the first time. Following advocacy efforts, the country adopted its first law on sexual harassment in 2019.
  • KOSOVO Centralized Database for Domestic Violence Cases: Created a centralized database of domestic violence cases with support from UN Women to improve the monitoring and prosecution of cases at the national and local level.
  • SPAIN Open Data Portal on Gender-Based Violence: Created a statistical portal of gender-based violence data in an open format, which centralizes government-held data from various ministries and judicial bodies in a single place.

The Role of Local Governments

Local governments play an essential role in preventing and addressing gender-based violence. They are most often responsible for community education, ensuring access to services, and responding to cases of gender-based violence.

Who is working on this topic?

Argentina Argentina
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso
Canada Canada
Costa Rica Costa Rica
Ecuador Ecuador
Guatemala Guatemala
Indonesia Indonesia
Liberia Liberia
Monterrey, Mexico
Morocco Morocco
North Macedonia
Plateau, Nigeria
Romania Romania
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone
Spain Spain
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Uruguay Uruguay

This list reflects members with commitments in the “Gender-Based Violence” policy area of the Data Dashboard.

Active OGP Partners

The following organizations have recently worked on this issue in the context of OGP at the national or international level. They may have additional insights on the topic. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you are interested in national-level initiatives, please contact

Benchmarking Data

The OGP 2023-2028 Strategy sets out the Open Gov Challenge and aims to provide clear benchmarks for performance through reliable data.

While benchmarks for individual countries and Open Gov Guide recommendations are not yet integrated, for this chapter, interested individuals may rely on the following data sets:

  • The World Bank maintains a database on GBV reporting.
  • Open Data Watch reports on the availability of gender-disaggregated homicide data in national statistical organizations.
  • The European Institute for Gender Equality maintains an extensive database for European countries on numerous issues of gender equality.

Guidance & Standards

While the list below is not exhaustive, it aims to provide a range of recommendations, standards, and analysis to guide reform in this policy area.

  • The OGP Support Unit published a guide to open government in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which includes specific recommendations related to preventing gender-based violence in the context of a crisis.
  • The European Union’s European Institute for Gender Equality publishes standards for various forms of GBV. In addition, it has compiled EU directives and regulations. Many of these rules have open government components.
  • Equal Measures 2030 reports on gaps in SDG-relevant data, including GBV-relevant data.
  • The World Bank published guidance on data to end violence against women and girls as part of its 2021 World Development Report.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) published a resource on applying survivor-centered approaches to governance, which includes government-wide strategies to address GBV and an annex of international and regional standards related to GBV.
  • The Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA) has published a standard for femicide data to allow comparison and learning.
  • Led by researchers at the Data + Feminism Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ILDA, and Feminicidio Uruguay, the Data against Feminicide project centralizes work to standardize femicide data and to develop tools to support the collection of such data from media sources as well as government bodies.
  • The #NotTheCost campaign created by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) focuses on ending violence against women in politics. NDI’s work on this topic includes guidance on designing programs to address this prevalent issue.
Open Government Partnership