Men and women experience gun violence in different ways. Men and boys constitute the majority of perpetrators and victims around the world – in high-income and low-income countries, whether at war, at peace or in transition.

  • On average, men account for 82% of homicide victims – a proportion ranging from 73% in Europe to 90% in the Americas.[1]
  • 88% of gun suicide victims are male.[2]
  • In the USA, boys comprise 80% of the 400 children killed and 3000 injured in accidental shootings each year.[3]

The use of guns by men and boys is often conditioned by cultural and social factors, particularly the idea that ‘real men’ can or should use violence as a means of resolving disputes and overcoming obstacles. Women and girls also fall prey to armed violence. In addition they experience particular types of gun violence, and suffer gender-specific consequences:

  • There is a direct correlation between national femicide (murder of women) rates and the use of firearms. Specifically, countries affected by high levels of femicide exhibit a higher proportion of femicides committed with firearms. On average, firearms were used in one-third of all femicides worldwide; in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, however, firearms were used in more than 60 per cent of femicide (the deliberate killing of women).[4]
  • The chance of a woman dying in a household where there is partner and family violence increases with the presence of a gun.[5]
  • In a crisis situation, injured women and girls are often cast aside in order to concentrate the family’s economic and physical resources on survival of male family members.
  • Caregiving responsibilities for those injured fall largely on women and girls, limiting their opportunities to work or go to school, and often causing their own health to deteriorate (see also the ‘Injury and rehabilitation’ page).[6]


The use of guns by men and boys is often conditioned by cultural and social factors, particularly the idea that ‘real men’ can or should use violence as a means of resolving disputes and overcoming obstacles.

The demographics of gun violence, which in most contexts occurs predominantly among youth and young adults, also raises concerns about the wellbeing of children when survivors of gun violence are parents and who then cares for them, develops primary relationships with those children. Women experiencing disability can face further discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Women with disabilities tend to be victims of violence at much higher rates than other women.[7]

Resources and References

International Action Network on Small Arms Women’s Network

Men Engage

UN Women

Manipur Women’s Gun Violence Survivors Network

More resources: Click here for a document with more website suggestions, articles and reports


[1] UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Global study on homicide 2011: Trends, Contexts, Data (Vienna: UNODC, 2011), p. 63.

[2] Small Arms Survey, Small Arms Survey 2004: Rights at Risk (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p.178.

[3] G. Jackman, M. M. Farah, A. Kellerman, and H. Simon, “Seeing is believing: What do boys do when they find a real gun?Pediatrics 107/6 June (2001), pp. 1247–1250.

[4] Based on a sample of 24 countries. A. Alvazzi del Frate, “When the Victim Is a Woman,” In Geneva Declaration Secretariat, Global Burden of Armed Violence: Lethal Encounters (Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2011), pp. 113–144.

[5] S. Mathews, N. Abrahams, L. Martin, L. Van der Merwe, and R. Jewkes, ‘Every six hours a woman is killed by her intimate partner’: A National Study of Female Homicide in South Africa, Medical Research Council Policy Brief (Cape Town: MRC, 2004). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Injury fact book, 2001-2002 (Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001).  Also see, M. Miller, D. Azrael, and D. Hemenway, “Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths, suicides, and homicides among women,” Journal of Urban Health 79 (2002), pp. 26-38. J.C. Campbell, et al, “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From a Multisite Case Control Study,” American Journal of Public Health 93/7 (2003), pp. 1089–1097.

[6] International Committee of the Red Cross, Women and war: Health fact sheet (Geneva: ICRC, 2001); E. Esplen, Gender and care, overview report, BRIDGE, Institute of Development Studies (Brighton: BRIDGE, 2009).

[7] Pan-American Health Organization, Human rights and health: persons with disabilities (Washington D.C.: PAHO, 2008), p. 2.

Image: Simon Konyong Logun, a Mandari man displaced by war in South Sudan, who attempted suicide by gunshot after his cattle died or were stolen and he could not support his family.  “I was tired of the memories I had, and the trauma of war and responsibility,” he said. (Kate Holt 2006)