The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations System. It supports the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health is defined in WHO's Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. WHO supports countries as they coordinate the efforts of multiple sectors of the government and partners to attain their health objectives and support their national health policies and strategies. WHO’s work on violence against women spans more than twenty years and includes: a) Building the evidence base on the size and nature of violence against women in different countries and developing methodologies and ethical and safety guidelines for measuring violence and its consequences; b) Establishing norms and standards for the health systems’ response to violence against women, particularly for intimate partner violence, sexual violence and female genital mutilation, including development of guidelines and tools (e.g. clinical handbook, training curricula, capacity assessment tools, strengthening health system job aids); c) Supporting countries (Ministries of Health and other relevant partners) to implement such tools, including in humanitarian settings and through participation in the Joint UN Programme on essential services for women subject to violence; d) Building evidence through research and data collection and development of prevalence estimates and global monitoring for different forms of VAW; e) Advocacy for strengthening the role of the health sector in multisectoral response to address VAW and for the integration of strategies to address VAW in existing health programmes such as those for sexual and reproductive and maternal and child health, HIV prevention, mental health, adolescent health and others.
See main instruments above. In addition, WHO’s work on violence against women is based on several resolutions by its governing bodies: World Health Assembly Resolution WHA49.25, Prevention of violence: a public health priority (1996); World Health Assembly Resolution WHA50.19, Prevention of Violence(1997); World Health Assembly Resolution WHA56.24, Implementing the recommendations of the World report on violence and health (2003); African Regional Committee Resolution AFR/RC54/R6, Child sexual abuse: a silent health emergency (2004); and the European Regional Committee Resolution EUR/RC55/10, Prevention of injuries in the WHO European Region. In May 2008 the World Health Assembly, adopted a resolution against FGM, which urges all Member States to, among others, enact and enforce legislation, support and enhance community-based efforts, and develop and promote guidelines for care of victims. More recently, the2014 World Health Assembly resolution WHA67.15 on “Strengthening the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children” ; Strategy and Plan of Action on Strengthening the Health System to Address Violence against Women, PAHO (2015); and World Health Assembly resolution WHA 69.5 WHO global plan of action to strengthen the role of the health system within a national multisectoral response to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children (2016).
WHO supports and undertakes research, develops guidelines and tools, strengthens the capacity of national health systems to develop policy and strengthen their response and services for survivors of violence against women and engages in advocacy and partnerships to address violence against women. Its efforts on violence against women include intimate partner violence, sexual violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), child and adolescent sexual abuse, child abuse and maltreatment, and violence against health workers. WHO also collaborates with IOM on the health of migrants and people who have been trafficked, including responding to violence. This work is being undertaken across a number of areas of work in WHO and by the different levels in WHO: at Headquarters, regional and country level. WHO participates in many UN inter-agency activities, processes, and partnerships, including UN Action (on sexual violence in conflict), the the Inter-agency Standing Committee, the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on reproductive health in humanitarian settings, the response to gender based violence in humanitarian settings through the health cluster, and UNAIDS Outcome Framework. It participates in the UN Joint Programme on Essential services for women subject to violence and a Joint Programme on strengthening methodologies and measurement and building national capacities for VAW data.
Gender based violence quality assurance tool (standards for the provision of high quality post-violence care in health facilities (2018)
Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused: WHO clinical guidelines (2017)
Strengthening health systems to respond to women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence: A manual for health managers (2017) Global plan of action to strengthen the role of the health system within a national multisectoral response to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children (2016)
Ethical and safety recommendations for intervention research on violence against women. Building on lessons from the WHO publication: Putting women first: ethical and safety recommendations for research on domestic violence against women (2016)
Strengthening the medico-legal response to sexual violence (2015) (with UNODC)
Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence: a clinical handbook – field testing version (2014) (with UNW and UNFPA)
Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women: WHO clinical and policy guidelines (2013)
Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence (2013)
16 Ideas for addressing violence against women in the context of the HIV epidemic: A programming tool (2013)
Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence: taking action and generating evidence, 2010
WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women – Report – initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses (2005)
WHO conducts review and evidence-based advocacy with groups such as the Interparliamentary Union that works with parliamentarians on topics such as child, early and forced marriage and sexual reproductive health in order to get them more engaged View More
WHO conducts review and evidence-based advocacy with groups such as the Interparliamentary Union that works with parliamentarians on topics such as child, early and forced marriage and sexual reproductive health in order to get them more engaged in legislation related to this issue. WHO conducted a review of legislation on child, early and forced marriage in the Asia-Pacific Region and also collaborated with the parliament of Bangladesh to develop legislation on child, early and forced marriage in 2015.Hide
UNFPA and WHO jointly hosted a meeting on “Prenatal Sex Selection for Non-Health Reasons” in June 2009 in order to build a common understanding that will lead to the issuance of a joint UN inter-agency statement on the subject.Hide
We have increased the capacity of our regional and country focal points through regional capacity building workshops on essential services (with UNW and UNFPA)or of the health sector response. We have also View More
We have increased the capacity of our regional and country focal points through regional capacity building workshops on essential services (with UNW and UNFPA)or of the health sector response. We have also strengthened our capacity to respond to VAW in humanitarian settings.Hide
The WHO Global Health Cluster tools and guidance integrate prevention of and response to sexual violence as part of the minimum set of actions to be undertaken by the health sector in humanitarian settings. Training on these tools and guidance is ongoing at global, regional, nation and sub-national levels and technical support is provided to country level humanitarian health clusters. WHO with UNHCR and UNFPA, launched an e-learning programme on the clinical management of rape in emergencies settings.Hide
WHO chaired the Scientific Committee for the 2009 Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum which brought together almost 200 researchers and others from 78 countries to address: prevention, health response, including mental health, HIV and sexual violence, and sexual violence in conflict.Hide
WHO developed in collaboration with UNHCR, UNFPA and the International Committee of the Red Cross “The Clinical management of rape survivors: developing protocols for use with refugees and internally displaced persons (updated, 2005)’. These guidelines provide guidance on setting up rape services in emergency settings. Following an expert consultation in December 2006, WHO is finalizing Safety and ethical recommendations for data collection, monitoring and research on sexual violence in conflict. WHO also developed training programmes for health providers and technical support for the integration of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict settings (Burundi, Congo, Liberia and Sudan).Hide
WHO organized and hosted a meeting on data and data collection methodologies on sexual violence in conflict on behalf of UN Action in December 2008. In January 2009, WHO co-organized a workshop for humanitarian actions in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, to introduce existing guidelines and initiate the integration of gender-based violence prevention and response actions.Hide
In the area of sexual violence in emergencies, WHO published several documents including: 1. Sexual violence in emergencies: Setting a research agenda (2012) 2. Do’s and don’ts in community-based psychosocial programming in regard to sexual violence in conflict-affected settings (August 2012) 3. Mental health and psychosocial support for conflict-related sexual violence: 10 myths (August 2012) 4. Mental health and psychosocial support for conflict-related sexual violence: principles and interventions (August 2012)Hide
UNICEF and WHO, supported by UN Action funds, organized a technical meeting on Responding to the Psychosocial and Mental Health Needs of Sexual Violence Survivors in Conflict-Affected Settings from 28 to 30 November 2011.Hide
WHO, with support from UNA, developed a methodology for measuring the experience and perpetration of violence among women and men in conflict/humanitarian settings, which has been further developed by partners and is currently being tested.
WHO, with support from UNA, developed a methodology for measuring the experience and perpetration of violence among women and men in conflict/humanitarian settings, which has been further developed by partners and is currently being tested.Hide