Safety & Violence

Violence against girls and women, including sexual and gender-based violence, is prevalent around the world. Every day, a girl or a woman is a victim of violence. Violence against girls can happen at different moments in their lives and in a number of different ways. In some countries, violence against girls and women is common. Just walking back and forth to school or going to get water can put girls at risk.

The Facts

  • 14% of girls’ deaths aged 15-19 are attributed to violence
  • Self-harm is also a serious issue – suicide is now the #1 cause of death among girls aged 15-19
  • Violence affects boys and girls differently – studies have found boys to be at greater risk of homicides and gang related violence while girls are disproportionately affected by sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)
  • ¼ of girls worldwide (70 million) said they were the victims of physical violence by the age of 15

Girl Up and the United Nations

Girl Up is working with the United Nations to make sure adolescent girls are safe and free from violence. UN programs that are supported by Girl Up work to prevent and protect girls from all forms of gender-based violence, abuse, exploitation and to ensure that girls who experience violence receive prompt protection, services and access to justice.

One solution is to provide increased access to firewood, water and toilets so that girls do not have to travel far from their home. Providing a girl with a safe space gives her the chance to be with other girls and mentors, and lessens her worry about becoming a victim of violence.


Guatemala is working to make progress after three decades of violence but the country is still experiencing widespread poverty that affects girls and women. Adolescent girls in Guatemala, especially indigenous girls living in rural areas, face high rates of violence. Close to half of all reported cases of violence against women are among girls and young women between the ages of 13 and 27, and approximately two girls or women are murdered every day in Guatemala. Girl Up is supporting UN programs that bring together government institutions responsible for the protection of adolescent girls as well as programs that raise awareness in communities about gender-based violence and teach community leaders how to respond when violence occurs. In addition, Girl Up supports educational institutions that teach adolescent girls about their rights, provide girls with clubs where they can have a safe, public space to meet with mentors and participate in skill-building activities.


In Malawi, Girl Up is working with UN partners to keep adolescent girls free from sexual and gender-based violence by supporting a campaign against child marriage that will educate and mobilize girls, boys and families to end the practice of child marriage. Girl Up also helps to empower girls to speak out for themselves about decisions that impact their lives. Girl Up supports the launch of a Say NO to Gender-based Violence campaign that will teach adolescents about girls’ rights and the harm of gender-based violence. Furthermore, with Girl Up’s support, the UN is working to establish case management plans and service delivery structures, such as school-based child protection committees, to support girls who have experienced violence.


Girl Up supports UNHCR’s work to address some of the challenges that Somali refugee girls face living in Ethiopia who have been displaced by the humanitarian crises. The program provides solar lamps for girls to study in the evening. This is an environment-friendly way to reduce the risk of violence that girls may otherwise face if they had to gather firewood for their family’s energy needs. The program also works with schools and teachers in the refugee camps to improve teachers’ understanding of gender issues in the classroom,  establish anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies in the schools, and provide girls with a safe environment.


Because Liberia experienced a civil war, girls and women are more vulnerable to being a victim of widespread sexual and gender-based violence. Girl Up supports the UN’s efforts to reduce the prevalence of harmful traditional practices and violence against girls by providing psycho-social support in community youth centers for girls affected by sexual or gender-based violence. Funds also help to establish community dialogue on girls’ education, health and cultural practices.


One of the largest challenges facing girls and women in India is violence, both in public and inside the home.  Girl Up supports UNFPA’s Action for Adolescent Girls (AAG) Initiative in one of India’s most populated regions, Rajasthan, which addresses the issue of gender-based violence. Reports show that 49% of women in Rajasthan have experienced some type of sexual or physical violence, and one out of every five survivors of rape is younger than 18 years old.  The AAG initiative is building partnerships with local organizations to provide safe spaces for adolescent girls to promote their safety and teach them about their basic human rights.