Risk and Protective Factors for Violence Against Women and Girls Living in Conflict and Natural Disaster-Affected Settings: A Systematic Review

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Trauma, violence & abuse




disasters; gender-based violence; protective factors; risk factors; violence against women; warfare and armed conflicts


This systematic review provides an overview of existing research on risk and protective factors associated with violence against women and girls (VAWG) in conflict and natural disaster settings. PubMed (Medline); PsycINFO; Scopus; and Cochrane Center trials registrar were searched as well as relevant internet repositories for VAWG research. The inclusion criteria covered studies that were published between January 1995 and December 2020, documented risk and/or protective factors for VAWG in conflict or natural disaster-affected settings and included primary or secondary data analysis. A total of 1,413 records were initially identified and 86 articles (covering 77 studies) were included in the final analysis. The findings show that many preexisting risk factors for VAWG are exacerbated in armed conflict and natural disaster-affected settings. Poverty and economic stress, men's substance abuse, exposure to violence, changing gender roles in contexts of inequitable gender norms, and a lack of social support are some of the risk factors associated with male perpetration or female experience of violence. In addition, risk factors specific to experiences during armed conflict or in a natural disaster (e.g., displacement, insecurity or congestion in and around displacement camps, militarization of society, killing of family, destruction of property, etc.) are associated with higher prevalence of VAWG in these contexts.


Global Health