Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Gender

 There are more than 45 million displaced people in the world, 80% of them women and children.[1] Disasters, natural and manmade, typically destroy medical facilities, displace medical personnel and erode support structures. In these circumstances an unplanned pregnancy can be fatal, and between a quarter and a half of maternal deaths in crisis situations are due to complications from unsafe abortions.[2] Family planning and post-abortion care are proven, essential and cost-effective interventions that save women's lives.[3] Nonetheless, they have been long neglected in emergencies in favour of conventional priorities such as water, sanitation, shelter, basic healthcare and food. This article…
As part of the primary research for the State of the World’s Girls 2013 report,[1] Plan conducted an online survey of humanitarian practitioners and decision-makers. The purpose of the survey was to provide an indication of what is actually happening in humanitarian response settings, with specific reference to adolescent girls. Respondents were asked to express their opinions of present practice and how it might be improved. The survey findings provide an illuminating insight into how response interventions are failing adolescent girls affected by disasters. They also provide an opportunity for practitioners to share practical suggestions for how different sectors can…
The link between sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and food insecurity is well documented.[1] Tensions within households, including domestic violence, can rise during periods of food scarcity, and tends to decline as assistance fills the food gap. Food assistance can also reduce the incidence of survival sex or sex for food. While food assistance programmes can support initiatives that contribute to preventing and mitigating SGBV, they can also undermine the protection of women and girls if they are implemented without sufficient understanding of the operational context. Beyond usual relief operations, food assistance is also directly used to support SGBV survivors…
Poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), whilst not the root cause of violence, can exacerbate the vulnerability of women and girls to violence. Men and boys, people of other gender or sexual identities or other marginalised groups can also sometimes be at risk. As WASH practitioners working in humanitarian and development contexts, we are often aware of the anecdotal but regular examples of incidents of violence in relation to WASH. However, we often do not appreciate the scale of the problem, why it happens or what, if anything, we can or should do about it. In order to…
Humanitarian workers can give a plethora of reasons why they do not prioritise addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian crises. Unlike lack of food, water or shelter, GBV is often not seen as life-threatening. The reality, however, is that rape, sexual harassment, physical assault and murder are committed largely against women and girls in camps, displacement situations and conflict areas. Despite the UN Assembly passing numerous resolutions addressing violence against women in conflict, high-level advocacy has had little effect on the situation on the ground. In humanitarian crises where there is continuing violence against civilians, what can we do to…
Sexual violence is an appalling violation of moral codes and international law which occurs in practically all situations of armed conflict and sustained violence. It is an abuse that has severe physical and psychological consequences for the individual, first and foremost, as well as the capacity to tear societies and communities apart. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works to protect and assist victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence across the world, including victims of sexual abuse. In recent years, the ICRC has extended and improved what it is able to do for victims of…
A woman arrives at a health centre somewhere in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She was raped a few days ago. She does not feel well, she has pelvic pain and she fears she might be pregnant. While admitting her, the consultant asks her a series of questions: Where are you from? What religion are you? What ethnic group do you belong to? What do you do for a living? Do you have any children? Are you married? What happened? When? How? Who did it? What ethnic group did they belong to? How many of them were there? Can…
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive risk that cuts across continents and contexts. Programming to respond to GBV saves lives and mitigates the debilitating consequences of violence. Yet such programming – and funding to support it – remains a secondary priority in humanitarian crises and development contexts. The dearth of responses is often attributed to a lack of evidence that GBV is occurring. Despite decades of research that points to the pervasiveness of GBV, prevalence or incidence data has become a near-requirement to demonstrate that GBV is on a scale that merits funding and action. However, on its own prevalence…
Gender-based violence (GBV) remains epidemic in situations of conflict, disaster and displacement. Despite the rhetoric, the new language around GBV, the UN Security Council Resolutions and the myriad of guidelines, women and girls, and to a lesser extent men and boys, continue to be raped, abused and violated in these contexts. Much is known about the facts of GBV and how to respond. It is known, for example, that incidents of GBV escalate, often dramatically, during conflict and displacement. It is also known that 50% of survivors are under the age of 16,[1] and that women and girls with disabilities…
Emergencies occur against a backdrop of pre-existing gender inequality. From Darfur to New Orleans, such inequality is exacerbated as any existing systems and structures to protect women and girls are changed, weakened or destroyed, when fighting breaks out or a hurricane hits. This creates specific risks that the humanitarian community cannot ignore – risks that disproportionately affect women and girls. Gender-based violence (GBV) programming in emergencies aims to meet the immediate, lifesaving needs of women and girls while laying the groundwork for survivors of such violence, their families and their communities to recover. Failing to include GBV-specific programming in emergency…
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