What’s New from the IRC in Women’s Protection and Empowerment

The International Rescue Committee helps survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) to heal and thrive, and works with communities and institutions to break the cycle of violence. The Women’s Protection and Empowerment (WPE) Team supports the development of holistic, survivor-centered services, conducting research, creating technical guidance and developing evidence-based best practice for prevention of and response to violence against women and girls in humanitarian settings.

For a complete accounting of WPE’s research, toolkits and guidance, please visit GBVresponders.org and follow @GBVResponders for updates.

Developments in 2018-2019 

A number of new guidance and tools were released by the IRC, independently and with partners, in 20182019. These include:

GBV Blended Curriculum & ROSA App

To accommodate frontline staff working in GBV response, IRC has created an innovative approach to capacity building through an interactive “Blended Curriculum” that can be utilized in face-to-face instruction as well as in remote, low-connectivity settings through the Remote-Offered Skill Building Application

(Rosa). Both are designed to utilize technology and keep

the content, community and continual skill assessment ongoing for staff working in and outside of traditional offices. [Development of this curriculum and mobile application was supported by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).]

Download both the GBV Blended Curriculum and ROSA App at GBVResponders.org/response.


Guidelines for Mobile & Remote GBV Service Delivery

Mobile and remote GBV service delivery responds to the changing nature of displacement. Increasingly, displaced persons are living in host communities, urban settings or informal settlements with more than half of the world’s displaced people living in urban areas. With mobile GBV service delivery, service providers move to where people are displaced, residing, or in transit, in order to provide services to those who cannot be easily reached with traditional (static) services. With remote GBV service delivery, GBV services (predominately emotional support and case management) are provided over a technology platform (i.e. hotline, chat, or SMS) rather than in person.

The Guidelines for Mobile and Remote GBV Service Delivery reflect the learning of a two year pilot project and a feasibility and acceptability study implemented in Myanmar, Burundi and Iraq in 2017 and 2018. [Development of the guidelines was supported by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration Services (PRM).] Download the Guidelines at GBVResponders.org/response.


Women & Girls’ Safe Spaces – A Toolkit for Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in Humanitarian Settings 

Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS) are considered a minimum component of GBV programming in emergency settings and have been used for decades by GBV actors in humanitarian programming as an entry point for women and girls to report protection concerns, express their needs, access vital services, engage in empowerment activities, and connect with the wider community. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and International Medical Corps (IMC) jointly developed the Women and Girls Safe Space Toolkit (WGSSTK), which was piloted in Lebanon, Thailand, Cameroon and Ethiopia. The toolkit offers a global blueprint for women led, context tailored, community-informed programming which supports women’s and girls’ sense of self and empowerment. It offers staff with different WGSS frontline, support or supervision roles a choice of 38 tools and databases with step by step instructions and guidance across 6 key project cycle phases. [Development of this Toolkit was supported by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM).] Download the Guidelines at GBVResponders.org (from November 14, 2019).


Screening for GBV in Primary Health Facilities in Humanitarian Settings Implementation Guidelines

Screening for GBV has become a topic of debate in humanitarian programming over the past few years as research has largely been limited to studies in developed countries. To address this, IRC has worked with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) since 2011 on the piloting, implementation and evaluation of ASIST-GBV, a GBV screening tool developed by JHU specifically for use among women and older adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. Findings from the evaluation, which led to the creation of Implementation Guidelines, indicate that, with the appropriate measures taken and prerequisites met, GBV screening by health providers has the potential to create a confidential environment where survivors can speak openly about their experiences with GBV; ensure competent care and referrals based on individual needs and wishes of survivors; and increase community awareness about GBV issues, thereby reducing stigma and improving attitudes. [Development of these Guidelines was supported by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM).] Download the Guidelines from GBVResponders.org/response.


GBV Case Management Outcome Monitoring Toolkit

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is an important part of accountable and effective GBV response, but traditionally the sector has focused on outputs (# of survivors receiving services, # of staff trained and # of dignity kits distributed). The GBV Case Management Outcome Monitoring Toolkit aims to measure outcomes, not outputs: the impact of gender-based violence

(GBV) case management on psychosocial well-being and felt stigma. [Development of this Toolkit was supported by Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) program, funded by the UK Government and Directorate General of ECHO.] Download the Toolkit at GBVResponders.org/response.


Update of GBV Emergency Response & Preparedness (ERP) Materials with Feminist Partners

The Building Local Thinking Global (BLTG) Project has led to an update of all the GBV ERP materials to strengthen accessibility and use by local women’s movements and local GBV actors through a process of engagement with women’s rights networks across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. BLTG and this update are part of IRC’s commitment to strengthen and support outreach to and meaningful engagement of actors in the global south throughout programming. [BLTG is funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM)].

Download the Materials at GBVResponders.org/emergency-response-preparedness/.


Inter-Agency Minimum Standards for GBV in Emergencies Programming

The IRC was proud to co-chair with UNFPA and UNICEF the GBV AOR Task Team which successfully led the development of the GBV Minimum Standards over the last 2 years. The 16 GBV Minimum Standards will support all actors working to implement specialized GBV programming to collectively champion the minimum standards needed to ensure survivors are provided with quality, survivor centered GBV response services, and promote the participation and empowerment of women and girls across GBV prevention and response programming. The IRC believes the minimum standards will help us to collectively advocate, together with local women’s movements, for prioritization of quality GBV specialized programming with humanitarian leadership, donors and governments. [Development of the Minimum Standards was supported by UNFPA.]

Download the Minimum Standards at gbvaor.net.



Real-Time Accountability Partnership on GBV in Emergencies

The International Rescue Committee, OCHA, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, and USAID’s Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance are pleased to announce a global, multi-agency initiative on addressing gender-based violence in emergencies, the Real-Time Accountability Partnership (RTAP). The RTAP aims to harness the collective power of the humanitarian community to ensure that all individuals, particularly women and girls, are free from the threat of gender-based violence (GBV). Specifically, the RTAP’s goal is that all actors prioritize and coordinate GBV response services and integrate GBV prevention across sectors from the outset of an emergency. Read More...

A Movement for Change: Women’s Community-based Organizations in the DRC

This paper describes the work of the IRC in addressing violence against women and girls alongside community-based organizations in the DRC. It specifically details the findings of an analysis conducted in 2012 of service delivery approaches between community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations. It also shows community-based organizations to be the most sustainable and effective at providing high quality response services after evaluating their work against other approaches in the DRC. The brief highlights that strong women’s networks and platforms allows them to serve their communities in important and empowering ways particularly if these groups are given the right tools, resources, and support by the humanitarian community. Read the brief here.

Evaluation of Implementation of 2005 IASC Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings in the Syria Crisis Response

One year after IRC’s ground-breaking report, Are We Listening?: Acting on Our Commitments to Women and Girls Affected by the Syrian Conflict, the United Nations has completed one of the report’s key recommendations: a real-time evaluation of the humanitarian community’s implementation of inter-agency guidelines to prevent and respond to GBV in the Syria region. The evaluation was supported by a Steering Committee comprised of UNFPA, UNHCR and UNICEF, along with IRC and the International Medical Corps, and was conducted from June to July 2015 in Lebanon, Jordan, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and Northern Syria. The report, which focused on the health, WASH, and shelter sectors, reveals a significant gap between policy and humanitarian practice to protect women and girls in the Syria response, and offers recommendations to improve coordination, leadership, and accountability of GBV interventions across the region. Read more here.

ODI GBV in Emergencies

How can humanitarian agencies better prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies? On 18 February 2014, the Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN) held an event to examine the challenges associated with prevention and response programming, the different forms of violence facing women and girls and the ways in which the needs of survivors can be better addressed in humanitarian crises.

Read more about ODI GBV in Emergencies

IRC WPE featured in Humanitarian Exchange

Alina Potts and Virginia Zuco report on the International Rescue Committee (IRC)’s experience of operationalizing GBV guidance. If GBV programming is essential in emergencies, how do we do it? Developing a model to operationalize existing guidance

Aisha Bain and Marie-France Guimond use examples from West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to demonstrate how service-based data can be used to improve GBV programming. Impacting the lives of survivors: using service-based data in GBV programs.