Briefing 3.1 - Introduction to gender-based violence in the world of work

2. Defining gender-based violence

Gender-based violence is violence that is directed against an individual or group of individuals based on their gender (Cruz and Klinger, 2011). It encompasses violence against women and girls as well as violence against men and boys, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI), and other individuals who do not conform to dominant gender roles (ILO 2012). It has also become widely used to address violence against women as a phenomenon that is related to the gender of both victim and perpetrator.

In particular, gender-based violence is increasingly used to define acts of violence rooted in some form of ‘patriarchal ideology’ with the purpose of maintaining social power for (heterosexual) men. (Council of Europe, 2007)

Violence against women - in the home, in the workplace and in public spaces - perpetuates inequalities between women and men. It is an issue of significant global attention and is a key issue affecting women’s empowerment as identified under the UN Sustainable Development Goals. (UN, 2015)

The UN defines violence against women as:

Violence against women means 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 private life. (United Nations, 1993)

For a discussion of the different definitions of gender-based violence see the ILO’s Annotated Bibliography. (Cruz and Klinger, 2011)