Violence Against Women and Girls

19 December 2012

Terms of Reference

One in three women globally will be beaten or sexually abused in their lifetime. Violence against women and girls occurs in all societies including the UK. Violence against women and girls is a violation of their rights. It also holds back poverty eradication and peace-building. It undermines women’s potential and ability to effect change in the world. Girls and women in developing countries are vulnerable to particular abuses including domestic violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and violence within schools and workplaces.

Violence has long been prevalent in situations of conflict and post-conflict. Rape is often used as a weapon of war, and often takes place in a culture of impunity. Rape often has far-reaching consequences for women. As well as severe health risks including HIV/AIDS, rape may result in unwanted pregnancies, stigma, abandonment and increased poverty.

Violence against women will be the theme for the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2013. It will also be a major theme of the UK-hosted G8 Summit in June.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has recently stated its intention to scale up its work on the issue, as set out in its June 2012 paper ‘A Theory of Change for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls’. DFID is establishing an ambitious research programme on VAWG due to launch by the start of 2013. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) established the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative in May 2012, to be run by the cross-Government Stabilisation Unit.
The International Development Committee is to launch an inquiry into Violence Against Women and Girls. Key issues for the inquiry will include:

  • The extent to which DFID programmes on VAWG support the right policy instruments and reflect best practice, as outlined in DFID’s Theory of Change and related guidance
  • The effectiveness of DFID funding mechanisms for VAWG and the systems in place to measure their impact
  • Co-ordination and integration of DFID’s work on VAWG with the other priority areas outlined in DFID’s Gender Vision, and with other areas of DFID programming (e.g. governance and conflict, health and education, economic growth, humanitarian disasters and emergencies)
  • The extent to which DFID's humanitarian responses address VAWG
  • Strength of UK leadership role internationally on VAWG, including the effectiveness of DFID’s work with multilateral partners and the UK’s International Champion for VAWG position
  • Cross-governmental working within the UK, particularly co-operation between DFID, the FCO and the MOD on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and the UK Government National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 Women, Peace and Security
  • Key events in 2013: the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March, and the G8 Summit in June
  • VAWG within the post-2015 development goals

The Committee invites written submissions from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for these is Tuesday 29 January.

Written evidence submitted should:

  • Have a one page summary at the front of your evidence
  • Be no longer than 3000 words in length
  • Have numbered paragraphs
  • Avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material

Be provided electronically in MS Word or Rich Text format (No PDF’s) by e-mail to  If submitted by e-mail or e-mail attachment, a letter should also be sent validating the e-mail. The letterhead should contain your full postal address and contact details.

View guidance on giving evidence to Select Committees.

Please also note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within written evidence, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included. If a number of published documents are sent to accompany written evidence, these should be listed in the covering email.
  • Written evidence submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

Further information

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