Why not Local?
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to take a devastating toll on women and girls’ safety in already complex humanitarian emergencies. Following on from What Happened?, this report surfaces evidence of increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV), as well as how GBV interventions have been impacted, drawing on interviews with those working on the front lines of prevention and response across three contexts: Cameroon, South Sudan, and Yemen.
In this report, the International Rescue Committee highlights various challenges that women’s rights organizations (WROs) face in accessing funding and participating in humanitarian decision-making, reflecting missed opportunities for accelerating localization during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also asks Where is the money?, tracking funding to GBV interventions across three contexts, evidencing the ways in which GBV interventions remain underfunded, and shining a light on the need to prioritize GBV interventions and meaningfully engage WROs in these efforts.
Importantly, the findings compel humanitarian actors to ask the question, “Why not local?” The IRC calls for system reform to achieve a more equitable distribution of power, including with feminist organizations and WROs, who are frontline responders providing lifesaving services to crisis-affected women and girls in their contexts. Finally, the report makes specific recommendations calling on humanitarian actors to fulfil their commitments to increasing the prioritization of GBV interventions in humanitarian crises and the meaningful engagement of women’s rights organizations. Executive Summaries for this report are available online here and for download: Arabic, French, and German.
As COVID-19 spread across the globe, gender-based violence (GBV) experts and women’s rights activists around the world raised the alarm that the pandemic and its ensuing movement restrictions would put women and girls at risk of increased violence. The issue of violence against women and girls in lockdown received unprecedented political attention in the wake of the pandemic. However, it proved much more challenging to translate the rhetorical commitments to the safety of women and girls in emergencies into additional financial resources and programming.
In this report, the International Rescue Committee brings forward the voices of 852 refugee and displaced women living in some of the most underfunded and forgotten humanitarian crises in 15 African countries across East Africa, West Africa and the Great Lakes region, to learn how the pandemic has impacted their safety. It looks at the humanitarian response to the health crisis and asks the question in how far the humanitarian response to COVID-19 took the needs and the safety of women and girls into account. Read the report here. An executive summary of the report is available in German and French.
Safety First: Time to deliver on commitments to women and girls in crisis
Gender Based Violence is a global epidemic. The IRC estimates that 14 million refugees and displaced women and girls were subjected to sexual violence in 2019. However less than 0.2% of all global humanitarian funding between 2016-2018 was allocated to GBV prevention and response, and women and girls are often invisible in country’s action plans for the Sustainable Development Goals. This report highlights some of the links between GBV and key SDGs to show where GBV prevention and response needs to be integrated across sectors to address the double disadvantage faced by women and girls in crisis. Read more here.
Where is the Money? How the Humanitarian System is Failing to Fund an End of Violence Against Women and Girls
Violence against women and girls is a global problem of epidemic proportions. Evidence shows that over one-third of women and girls globally will experience some form of violence in their lifetime. Regardless of where they live, their religion or culture, or what stage of life they are in, each is a target of violence specifically because of her gender and the gender discrimination that persists globally.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is exacerbated in emergencies, where vulnerability and risks are higher and most often, family and community protections have broken down. Rohingya women arriving in Cox’s Bazar have reported rape at the hands of the Myanmar military, while in the refugee settlements, women and girls are often not allowed to leave their tents, isolating them from services and increasing their risks of violence from partners and family. In South Sudan, as many as 65 per cent of women and girls have experienced physical or sexual violence. Sexual exploitation of women and girls in emergencies – including by aid workers and peacekeepers – is also increasingly recognized as a problem that the humanitarian sector must address. Read the full report here.
This review was commissioned by IRC and conducted by VOICE, with feedback from IRC staff and partners.
The Impact of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies
In 2013, world leaders, convened by the governments of the United Kingdom and Sweden, came together to launch the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (English, French, Spanish, Arabic), a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to drive change and foster accountability across the humanitarian system to address GBV, particularly against women and girls. Four years on since the launch of the Call to Action, the IRC commissioned a review to understand its impact on mobilizing resources, attention, and programming to better prevent and respond to GBV. The review found that the Call to Action has been catalytic in driving forward new, faster changes that maximized the impact of efforts to strengthen GBV programs and advocacy in place prior to 2013. The report highlights key findings, identifies gaps in the initiative, and proposes recommendations for further action. Read the Executive Summary. As well, read the Full Report (English) or Full Report (Spanish).
Are We There Yet? Progress and challenges in ensuring life-saving services and reducing risks to violence for women and girls in emergencies
In October 2012 the IRC released a report (Lifesaving, Not Optional) which analysed the obstacles to effective responses to gender-based violence (GBV) in four different humanitarian crises, and we found a systematic failure to prioritise GBV in emergency response. In an effort to examine progress in the field since 2012, our latest report Are We There Yet? compares four additional emergencies –the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Iraq, and the Ebola Virus Disease crisis in Sierra Leone. This paper assesses the response to these ongoing emergencies in terms of how GBV has been prioritised in funding streams, the quality of GBV coordination efforts, implementation of GBV risk reduction guidelines across sectors, and the delivery of specialised GBV services. Read the report 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 the report in English or Arabic.
Are We Listening? Acting on Our Commitments to Women and Girls Affected by the Syrian Conflict
For millions of Syrian women and girls displaced by war, daily life is an exhausting struggle—from searching for clean water and food for their families without constant harassment to facing threats of domestic violence in their own homes. They face a startling degree of isolation, violence and insecurity.
In our recent report, “Are We Listening? Acting on Our Commitments to Women and Girls Affected by the Syrian Conflict,” the IRC brings to light the voices of Syrian women and girls and the barriers they face. Read the report in English or العربية; and annex on International Commitments to Women and Girls, with Arabic annex here. Visit the IRC special site here: http://www.rescue.org/arewelistening.
Three Years of Conflict and Displacement: How this Crisis is Impacting Syrian Women and Girls
In early 2014, IRC released a visibility paper about the devastating impact of the Syrian civil war on women and girls. This paper details women and girls’ efforts to escape the conflict in Syria, which have exposed them to serious risks, both during flight and as refugees in camps and cities in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Read more here.
Lifesaving, Not Optional
Lifesaving, Not Optional provides an overview of gender-based violence responses in four emergencies – Haiti, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – to better understand how donors and humanitarian agencies respond across a variety of contexts. Read more here.
Let Me Not Die Before My Time
In 2012, IRC released a groundbreaking report on domestic violence in West Africa. The report places the issue of domestic violence, which globally will affect 1 in 3 women in their lifetime, firmly on the agenda of the humanitarian community. Read the report Let Me Not Die Before my Time here.