Youth and Philanthropy Initiative

Gender-based Violence

A young, frightened woman with her hands up covering part of her face.

What is it?

Gender‐based violence is violence that is directed against someone because of their gender. It is not just physical violence, but includes any acts of violence that can cause physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm to someone. It affects women disproportionately but also affects transgender, non-binary or Two-Spirit people who can also be targeted due to their gender identity or gender expression.


Gender inequality and discrimination are root causes of gender based violence.

Most often targeted at women and girls, GBV is related to power inequalities and is shaped by social norms that dictate men’s and women’s roles in society and normalize abuse. Inequalities between men and women can be seen across public and private areas of life, and across social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. These inequalities can increase women’s and girls’ risks of abuse, violent relationships and exploitation.

Learn about the risk factors »


(Note: Although GBV does not only affect women, there is still less data regarding GBV directed at LGBT and gender diverse people. The most current research on violence impacting queer and gender-diverse communities is carried out by Egale Canada. )

The following statistics are drawn from Statistics Canada’s data on gender-based violence:

  • Police-reported data show just over 173,600 women aged 15 and older were the victims of violent crime in 2011, a rate of 1,207 victims for every 100,000 women in the Canadian population
  • According to police-reported data, women were 11 times more likely than men to be sexually victimized, and three times as likely to be stalked
  • Out of the 4,476 women and 3,493 children staying in shelters on the snapshot date of April 16, 2014, 78% were there primarily because of abuse
  • Overall, men were responsible for the majority of violence committed against women (83%). Male accused accounted for 60% of police-reported violence committed by friends or acquaintances, 68% of non-spousal family violence, 74% of stranger violence and 98% of intimate partner violence
  • The actual incidence of violent acts against women and girls is estimated to be much higher than official police- reported statistics suggest, as a large percentage of this violence goes unreported

What you can do

Speak up! If you see or hear a friend, classmate or peer say or do something hurtful, talk to them about it. Even things that seem little, like sexist “jokes”, add up over time to create an environment where disrespect and abuse towards women and gender diverse people seems normal. But it isn’t normal, and it’s okay for you to call people out for being wrong.

If you are concerned that a friend or someone you know may be/have been the target of gender-based violence, talk to them and offer support. 

Learn more about the warning signs that someone is experiencing abuse »

Here are some more tips from the Status of Women Office on what to do as a bystander. And some specific tips for men & boys from the White Ribbon Campaign.

Learn More

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