Resources for addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in humanitarian settings.

WPE Policy and Advocacy

Policy drives decision-making for funding, programming, and prioritization –by donor governments, in coordination mechanisms, and by our own humanitarian aid organizations. The WPE Policy and Advocacy team works to ensure that humanitarian policy, and therefore practice, prioritizes GBV prevention and response and for GBV prevention and response to be based in feminist principles, promote gender equality, and use the best practice and research available.

Why Wait? How the Humanitarian System Can Better Fund Women-Led and Women’s Rights Organisations

Women’s rights and women-led organisations (WROs/WLOs) are a critical driving force in providing effective gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response services to women and girls impacted by conflict and displacement. Although rhetorical recognition of WROs/WLOs has grown at policy levels, funding to WROs/WLOs remains incredibly low. Following on from “WHY NOT LOCAL?”, this report provides analysis from across three contexts: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Ukraine. It reveals the pervasive systemic barriers preventing WROs/WLOs to access humanitarian funding.

  • Read the full report in English. A summary of the report is available HERE, and translations of the summary are available French, Dari, Pashto, and Ukrainian at the same link.

Why Not Local? Gender-Based Violence, Women’s Rights Organisations, and the Missed Opportunity of COVID-19

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 tracks 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.

What happened? How the Humanitarian Response To COVID-19 Failed to Protect Women and Girls

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 IRC 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.

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.

Where is the Money? How the Humanitarian System is Failing to Fund an End of Violence Against Women and Girls

Gender-based violence against women and girls is exacerbated in emergencies, where 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.

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, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to drive change and foster accountability across the humanitarian system to address GBV 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.

Are We There Yet? Progress and challenges in ensuring life-saving services and reducing risks to violence for women and girls in emergencies

This report compares four 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 prioritized in funding streams, the quality of GBV coordination efforts, implementation of GBV risk reduction guidelines across sectors, and the delivery of specialized GBV services.

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 the 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.

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 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 the ANNEX ON INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS TO WOMEN AND GIRLS

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.

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.

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.

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