Femicide: understanding the most extreme form of violence against women and girls

By: PfP
Date: 17-02-2020
The murder of a woman (or girl) because she is a female. That’s how the World Health Organization (WHO) defines femicide, although it acknowledges that “broader definitions include any killings of women or girls”.1

Collecting data on femicide is challenging because different countries collect information on murders differently, and collect different information.

However, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had this to say in 2018: “... gender-related killings of women and girls remain a grave problem across regions, in countries rich and poor. While the vast majority of homicide victims are men, killed by strangers, women are far more likely to die at the hands of someone they know.”2

The UNODC said 58% of all women who are murdered worldwide are killed by intimate partners or family members.

While women and girls account for a far smaller share of the global murder rate than men – men die in 80% of all murders worldwide – women and girls are much more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner (82% of women, 18% of men).

With an intimate partner/family-related homicide rate of 3.1 per 100 000 female population, Africa is the region where women run the greatest risk of being killed by their intimate partner or family members. Europe (0.7 per 100 000 population) is the region where the risk is lowest.


1. Understanding and addressing violence against women. World Health Organization 2012 https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/77421/WHO_RHR_12.38_eng.pdf?sequence=1

2. Global Study on Homicide – gender-related killing of women and girls. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2018 https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/GSH2018/GSH18_Gender-related_killing_of_women_and_girls.pdf
SADC Ford Foundation SAMRC What Works UK Aid Canada EU