Network Papers

A woman in Monrovia takes part in the ‘16 Days of Activism’ campaign launched by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to strengthen the rights of women and stop gender-based violence.

No. 77 March 2014

Preventing and responding to gender-based violence in humanitarian crises

by Rebecca Holmes and Dharini Bhuvanendra

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In recent years, international concern over gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies has grown exponentially. Beginning in the mid-1990s with small programmes in a few countries, GBV interventions providing at least basic survivor care and support are now the norm rather than the exception in humanitarian programming.

However, while international attention to GBV has increased substantially, there remains a lack of data on and understanding of good practice in relation to GBV programming in humanitarian contexts, and a lack of consensus on how to apply GBV concepts and terminology. This has resulted in a lack of agreement on how to define, prioritise, prevent and respond to gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts.

In response to these challenges, this Network Paper maps and critically analyses good practice in preventing and responding to gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts to support humanitarian practitioners and policymakers to improve the quality of GBV programming.

It is based on a review of the literature relating to gender-based violence in emergencies, funded by the UK Department for International Development (the review is available at http://r4d.dfid.gov.uk/Output/195127/). The review aimed to answer a number of key questions around the monitoring and evaluation of existing programmes; key features of ‘successful’ programming; needs assessments, programme design and funding; the effects of mainstreaming GBV programming in humanitarian action; and the state of knowledge and use of GBV guidelines.

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