What lessons can be learned from previous experience hosting large numbers of refugees arriving in Europe, for the response to the Ukraine crisis?
Nearly one third of Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes since the Russian attack. It is one of the largest humanitarian displacement crises and also a profoundly gendered and intersectional protection crisis. Even before the war began two thirds of women in Ukraine had experienced some form of gender-based violence (GBV) in their lifetime. The war has sharply increased the risk of multiple forms of violence against women and girls – including domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse (SHEA), commercialized sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons. As Europe responds to the humanitarian challenges in Ukraine and its neighbourhood, we must learn from the reception of large numbers of refugees in Europe, especially in countries of first reception that hosted and still host the largest refugee communities. This brief provides an overview of the 10 key learnings and best practices from inside Europe that should inform and strengthen the current response. Learnings and best practices were informed by findings from the European “Survivor Project: Enhancing Services for Refugee and Migrant GBV Survivors”, based on reports on site visits to Greece, France, and Bulgaria in 2019.
Women and Girls in Yemen’s War: Protection, Participation and Potential
This Women’s Protection and Empowerment (WPE) policy brief provides an overview of the entrenched gender inequalities which affected women and girls in Yemen and which have been exacerbated over the past 4 years. It highlights the specific impact of the conflict on women and girls’ health and protection. The brief argues that the war is having a devastating impact on women and girls and that failure to address the needs and rights of women and girls in the humanitarian response is causing irreparable damage to their lives. It highlights the critical role of women in ensuring a gender transformative agenda is part of Yemen’s future. It concludes by setting out recommendations for all humanitarian actors, including the need to increase funding towards GBV prevention and response as a matter of priority.
Choices, chances and safety in crisis: A model for women’s economic empowerment.
This briefing outlines the impact of humanitarian crisis on women’s economic empowerment and the limitations of existing responses. It provides a crisis model for transformative women’s economic empowerment and argues that unless the interrelated preconditions for women to safely generate, use and control resources are in place, crisis-affected and displaced women will continue to suffer violence and hardship while risking exploitation and abuse.
Intersections of Violence Against Women and Girls with State-building and Peace-building: Lessons from Nepal, Sierra Leone and South Sudan
In recent years there has been increased recognition by the international community that prioritising women’s rights in state-building and peace-building (SBPB) efforts is central to realising sustainable peace in post-conflict settings. This has led to the adoption of key policy instruments and frameworks that have sought to increase women and girls’ meaningful participation in peace processes. At the same time, growing attention to the problem of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in conflict has seen an increase in efforts to address VAWG in global humanitarian policy and advocacy fora. This brief presents findings from a ground-breaking study, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, that explores the intersections between VAWG and efforts to secure peace and stability in conflict and post-conflict contexts. Read the brief here.
Violence, Uncertainty and Resilience among Refugee Women and Community Workers
In the Dadaab refugee camps in north-eastern Kenya, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and CARE International (CARE) have implemented programmes that aim to both respond to and prevent GBV. A cornerstone of this work has been to train refugees, known as refugee community workers, to deliver aspects of GBV prevention and response work in order to develop a broader implementation of traditional GBV outreach, community mobilisation, and case management. Between 2014 and 2017, research co-led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), in collaboration with IRC and CARE was conducted to assess this model and better understand its feasibility, acceptability, and influence among female survivors of GBV accessing care. This policy brief presents the key findings of that research, and recommendations for policy makers. This research is part of the UK Government’s Department for International Development’s (DFID) What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls research programme.
No Safe Place: A Lifetime of Violence for Conflict-Affected Women and Girls in South Sudan
In 2014, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Global Women’s Institute (GWI) at the George Washington University, and CARE International UK (CIUK) began work on the design and implementation of a comprehensive population-based study to understand the prevalence, forms, drivers, and trends of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in South Sudan. The study findings, launched in November 2017, aim to fill substantial gaps in understanding the intersections of VAWG and conflict in South Sudan. This Policy Brief highlights key findings from the study and outlines specific recommendations that donors, policymakers, and UN agencies should adopt to effectively prevent and respond to VAWG in South Sudan and other humanitarian contexts. This research is part of the UK Government’s Department for International Development’s (DFID) What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls research program.
Protecting and Empowering Adolescent Girls from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies
Adolescence is a time of growth and exploration; when opportunities and social networks expand and young people begin to develop their own sense of identity and future. In many contexts around the world, however, adolescence is also a time when girls’ worlds often begin to shrink and their self-esteem and aspirations give way to harmful gender norms and violence. Despite their unique vulnerabilities and their untapped potential, the international community is falling short in protecting and empowering adolescent girls in emergencies. This brief outlines the challenges adolescent girls face during emergencies, lessons learned from IRC’s adolescent girl programming, and recommendations for donors, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers for needed investments in strategies and programs specifically tailored to adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. Read the brief HERE.
Making the Global Compact on Refugees Work for All Women and Girls
The IRC is proud to be one of 35 organizations who endorsed a policy and advocacy brief calling on UN Member States to ensure that the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) integrates gender considerations into the four pillars of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, which is the foundation for the GCR. This brief presents recommendations from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) committed to refugee responses that advance gender equality and respond fully to the concerns of refugee women and girls.
Localising Response to Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies
Local organisations – particularly women’s organisations – have been working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies for decades. Despite their extensive experience and skills, they face a broad range of challenges in delivering aid to women and girls in emergencies; from lack of sustainable funding and operational capacity, to obstacles in partnering with international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).Advocacy from INGOs and local and women’s organisations have catalysed commitment to localising GBV emergency response within various humanitarian policy frameworks, including the Grand Bargain. In this brief, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) shares learning from its programmes working with local and women’s organisations to respond to GBV in emergencies and shares policy and programming recommendations to bring high level commitments into action on the ground. Read the Brief Here.
Improving Aid for Women and Girls in Emergencies: Rapid Response Funding for GBV Services Saves Lives
Humanitarian crises bring with them new and escalated risks of violence targeting women and girls. Rapid and flexible funding dedicated to quickly setting up specialized gender-based violence services during the initial emergency response period is life-saving and necessary in order to deliver effective aid and quality services to violence survivors. This policy brief outlines the unique rapid response partnership between Irish Aid and the International Rescue Committee, which has allowed the IRC to reach 20,000 women and girls over the past two years in some of the toughest humanitarian contexts, including Yemen, South Sudan, and territories in Nigeria and Cameroon that are newly liberated from Boko Haram. Read the brief here.
Resettling Adolescent Girls in the United States: Program and Policy Considerations
Violence is part of the lives of many adolescent girls around the world, largely due to deeply entrenched social norms that perpetuate gender inequality. For many girls, resettlement in the U.S. offers an opportunity to rebuild and regain their lives, yet life after resettlement includes significant stressors as well. This brief outlines the specific barriers and challenges that adolescent girls face when displaced by conflict and disaster, how the IRC’s U.S. Programs are supporting adolescent girls in their resettlement journey, and recommendations for resettlement agencies, donors, and policymakers in the United States. Read the Brief Here.
Europe Refugee Crisis: urgent action needed for protection of women and girls
Women and girls fleeing conflict, violence and insecurity are finding unsafe and substandard living conditions as they arrive in Greece, transit through the Balkans and seek refuge and asylum in Europe. This policy brief outlines four recommendations for governments, donors, and humanitarian actors to implement to improve the safety and protection of women and girls in Europe. Please click here to see the full brief.
World Humanitarian Summit: Delivering action for women and girls
This policy brief outlines specific recommendations that leaders attending the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) can take to ensure that women and girls are protected from gender-based violence (GBV), have access to specialized survivor services, and have a meaningful voice in the systems, polices, and programs that impact their lives. The WHS, held May 23-24, 2016, is an initiative of the Secretary General of the United Nations to reaffirm a commitment to humanity and humanitarian principles, and to launch concrete initiatives to save lives, alleviate suffering and better prepare for and respond to crises. The importance of improving prevention of and response to GBV in humanitarian settings is highlighted in the Secretary General’s Agenda for Humanity—a framework to guide the WHS commitments process. Read the policy brief here.
Unheard Voices: Taking Action to Meet the Needs of Women and Girls Affected by the Syrian Conflict
This policy brief outlines the specific barriers and violence facing Syrian women and girls, the consequences resulting from inadequate funding and prioritization of gender-based violence prevention and response programs, as well as recommendations for donors to prioritize at the Syria Donors Conference, held in London on February 4, 2016. Read the brief here.
Responding to GBV in the Horn and East Africa’s Emergency Settings – Lessons from the Field
This policy brief was developed based on learning produced by our women’s protection and empowerment programs in fragile settings in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Due to the fragility of the Horn and East Africa region and the cyclical nature of the emergencies it faces, this brief provides regional analysis and recommendations and affirms that it is more important than ever for humanitarian agencies to invest in supporting actors across all levels to prepare and respond to gender-based violence (GBV). Read the brief here.
Position on the World Humanitarian Summit
This policy brief, drafted jointly by the Gender and Development Network, UK Gender Action for Peace and Security, and the InterAction GBV Working Group, outlines five recommendations for the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). The brief, which is endorsed by 13 leading humanitarian organizations, including the IRC, urges all stakeholders involved in the WHS to work towards realizing a transformative change in the way the humanitarian community prioritizes, integrates and coordinates gender equality and GBV in emergency response efforts. Read the policy brief here.
Recommendations for the Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies
This policy brief, drafted jointly by the Gender and Development Network Humanitarian Working Group and the InterAction GBV Working Group–both of which are co-chaired by the IRC–outlines six recommendations for inclusion in the Road Map for the Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies. The brief lays out a vision that calls for prioritization of the needs of those affected by GBV, particularly women and girls, through comprehensive and specialized interventions from the very first phase of an emergency, tackling the root causes of GBV, supporting best practice, and working with survivors and the organizations representing them. Read the brief here.
Women’s Protection and Empowerment Advocacy
This brief describes the IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment advocacy approach which focuses on promoting the protection of women and girls in emergencies and neglected crises, ensuring that increased attention to violence against women and girls translates into concrete action, and supporting women- and girl-led social movements. Read the brief here.
Private Violence, Public Concern: Intimate Partner Violence in Humanitarian Settings
This IRC policy brief highlights key findings from a qualitative study that examined the nature and drivers of intimate partner violence in Ajuong Thok settlement, South Sudan, Dadaab camp, Kenya and Domiz camp, Iraq; identifies gaps in existing programs and policies; and outlines specific recommendations that U.N. agencies, donors, and policymakers should adopt to effectively prevent and respond to IPV in humanitarian contexts. Read the policy brief here.
From Protection to Empowerment Investing in Girls’ Life Skills: IRC Policy Brief
This IRC policy brief for the European Week of Action for Girls (Brussels, October 2014) provides models and best practices of programs that move from protection to empowerment by investing in girls’ life skills in humanitarian settings. Read the policy brief here.
Girl Summit: IRC Policy Brief
This IRC policy brief examines how programs in fragile settings fail to specifically address the violence that adolescent girls’ experience, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) and IRC’s response programs. Read the policy brief here.
UNGA Review Event on the Call to Action on Violence against Women and Girls in Emergencies
On 4 March 2012 the UK Secretary of State for International Development launched an International Call to Action to address violence against women and girls (VAWG) in emergencies (‘Call to Action’). The Call to Action culminated in a high-level event, co-hosted by the UK and Sweden in November 2013. Governments, UN agencies, international NGOs and civil society organisations came together to endorse twelve global commitments to prioritise the protection of women and girls from violence in emergency situations. In January 2014, the United States assumed leadership of the Call to Action process as part of its global commitment to end gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies, led by its initiative “Safe from the Start”. The US has focused its leadership to finalizing a ‘Roadmap’ for all Call to Action members to follow in the next 5 years. As part of that Roadmapping process, the USG organised a Call to Action event in September 2014 in New York during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly. Members of the UK-based Gender and Development Network (GADN) set out in this document recommendations for this event. Read the briefing here.
Turning Promises into Action? Addressing Gender-Based Violence in South Sudan
The IRC has spoken to women and girls in the South Sudan states of Unity, Lakes, Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Central Equatoria since the beginning of the conflict that erupted in December 2013. They have told us about the risks they are exposed to and the violence they face: rape, sexual exploitation, abduction and intimate partner violence. The same risks and violence women and girls in emergencies have been exposed to for decades. In this brief, the IRC identifies gaps and recommendations to bring global commitments on GBV in emergencies to manifest in the lives of women and girls in South Sudan. Read more here.
Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict: IRC Policy Brief
The IRC promotes the safety, well-being and empowerment of women and girls because they have been specifically targeted in war and in peace times, because their priorities have been historically under-addressed, and because of pervasive gender inequality. However, we also provide services to men and boys who are survivors of sexual violence and engage men in preventing VAWG. Read the policy brief here.
Bearing the Brunt: Women and Girls in the Central African Republic
Bearing the Brunt is an IRC policy briefing on the context of violence, women and girls in the current crisis, IRC activities, and recommendations for donor, UN Agencies and NGOs. Read more here