Existence of a policy on SGBV

The existence of formal governmental declarations, laws, and statutes affecting sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Policy also can refer to operational regulations, guidelines, norms, and standards (Cross, Jewell, and Hardee, 2001).


Documentation outlining the policy. Evaluators may want to disaggregate by sex.


Legislative records, administrative records, and other government documents (national, regional, and local); also, internal policy documents of an organization


The purpose of this indicator is to track changes in the policy environment that potentially affect the delivery of SGBV services and the well-being of victims of SGBV. Such changes can occur in the political arena (via for­mal governmental declarations and changes in legisla­ture, which some refer to as Policy with a capital "P" or at the organizational level (in terms of the policies and procedures used within reproductive health services and by institutions that refer women to these services, such as the police, judiciary, and social services (policy with a small "p"). This indicator is a specific case of the indi­cator on Existence of official national/subnational or organizational policies or strategic plans that promote equitable and affordable access to high-quality reproductive health ser­vices and information presented in this database under the cross-cutting area Policy.

Experts in this field maintain that any organization deal­ing with SGBV should articulate a policy (small "p") on its approach to SGBV. The organization may also take an advocacy stance and try to influence governmental policy and legislation (capital "P"), depend­ing on its mission.

In analyzing policy-related documents on SGBV, one should further consider how the document frames the issue:

  • Does the policy acknowledge SGBV as a com­plex and multi-determined social and health phenomenon?
  • Does the policy use an integrated approach to respond to SGBV or a fragmented, single-sector approach?
  • Does the policy work collaboratively with women‘s organizations that have been on the front line of the response to SGBV up until the point of a formal policy development?

Whereas the existence of a policy on SGBV signals po­litical concern over the topic, it may be relatively mean­ingless if not translated into concrete actions. Any as­sessment of SGBV  policy should examine the actual struc­tures in place to respond to the needs of victims of SGBV, as well as the record of implementing the policy initia­tives to prevent violence in the future. Thus, a related indicator involves the existence of structures to (1) pro­vide services to those who experience SGBV  and (2) undertake initiatives aimed at reducing or eliminating SGBV  in the future.


policy, women's status, empowerment, female genital cutting (FGC), violence
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