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Gender-based violence (GBV) is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies. Gender-based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience gender-based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls.
 
Gender-based violence and violence against women are terms that are often used interchangeably as it has been widely acknowledged that most gender-based violence is inflicted on women and girls, by men. However, using the ‘gender-based’ aspect is important as it highlights the fact that many forms of violence against women are rooted in power inequalities between women and men. The terms are used interchangeably reflecting the disproportionate number of these particular crimes against women.
 
The Istanbul Convention (Council of Europe, Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence), as the benchmark for international legislation on tackling gender-based violence, frames gender-based violence and violence against women as a gendered act which is ‘a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women’. Under the Istanbul Convention acts of gender-based violence are emphasised as resulting in ‘physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.’
 
One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, and the immediate and long-term physical, sexual, and mental consequences for women and girls can be devastating, including death.
 
Violence negatively affects women’s general well-being and prevents women from fully participating in society. It impacts their families, their community, and the country at large. It has tremendous costs, from greater strains on health care to legal expenses and losses in productivity.
 
At least 155 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, and 140 have legislation on sexual harassment in the workplace (World Bank 2020). But challenges remain in enforcing these laws, limiting women and girls’ access to safety and justice. Not enough is done to prevent violence, and when it does occur, it often goes unpunished.

Types of GBV

Gender-based violence is enacted under many different manifestations, from its most widespread form, intimate partner violence, to acts of violence carried out in online spaces. These different forms are not mutually exclusive and multiple incidences of violence can be happening at once and reinforcing each other. Inequalities experienced by a person related to their race, (dis)ability, age, social class, religion, sexuality can also drive acts of violence. This means that while women face violence and discrimination based on gender, some women experience multiple and interlocking forms of violence.
 
The Istanbul Convention (Council of Europe, Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence), defines violence against women as falling under four key forms: physical, sexual, psychological and economic.
 
Physical violence
Any act which causes physical harm as a result of unlawful physical force. Physical violence can take the form of, among others, serious and minor assault, deprivation of liberty and manslaughter.
 
Sexual violence
Any sexual act performed on an individual without their consent. Sexual violence can take the form of rape or sexual assault.
 
Psychological violence
Any act which causes psychological harm to an individual. Pyschological violence can take the form of, for example, coercion, defamation, verbal insult or harassment.
 
Economic violence
Any act or behaviour which causes economic harm to an individual. Economic violence can take the form of, for example, property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education or the labour market, or not complying with economic responsibilities, such as alimony.
 
It is also important to recognise that gender-based violence may be normalised and reproduced due to structural inequalities, such as societal norms, attitudes and stereotypes around gender generally and violence against women specifically. Therefore it is important to acknowledge structural or institutional violence, which can be defined  as the subordination of women in economic, social and political life, when attempting to explain the prevalence of violence against women within our societies.

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Can philanthropy foundations successfully balance long-term giving objectives with current social needs

At the end of the 19th century, philanthropy was significantly transformed from being an ad hoc form of giving to meet a specific need for support or assistance, to a highly strategic, investment-based way of doing good, potentially in perpetuity.
 
The shift was driven by a recognition that effective investment of donor funds could not only enhance and broaden their impact, but also extend the timeline over which they could be leveraged in support of beneficiaries.
 
Since the likes of Sage, Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller pioneered this strategic philanthropic giving, investing in capital markets, typically by means of philanthropic foundations or trusts,  has been the preferred approach to giving by many affluent individuals, families and organisations. And it is still a highly effective model by which to ensure the sustainability and impact of such giving.
 
The logic is sound. Investing in financial markets offers the best potential for capital growth over time, thereby enabling philanthropic trusts to do more, for longer, as their well-managed investment portfolios grow.
 
However, the catastrophic global impact of Covid-19 has given many of these philanthropic foundations pause for thought on whether it is morally acceptable to retain a large, future-focused philanthropic investment portfolio when there are so many people in dire need of help right now.
 
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. And the response by each philanthropy foundation will largely depend on the reasons for its existence, it’s giving mandate, and some difficult conversations between trustees, donors and beneficiaries.

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Read the e-newsletter here: Issue 732: Ending violence against women

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