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Women and humanitarian interventions

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humantiarianThe effect of gender equality programming on humanitarian outcomes.

Major humanitarian emergencies over the past decade, such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Kashmir Earthquake, continue to highlight the importance of gender equality in emergency interventions.

Response and recovery programmes have been subject to criticisms about gender-insensitive and gender-blind practices that have worsened the situations of women and girls.

As a result, gender equality programming (GEP) has become more central to discussions about humanitarian intervention.

Gender equality programming recognises that the needs and vulnerabilities of women, men, girls and boys in any given crisis-affected population will be specific and different.

Key to being able to identify and address these disparate needs is a contextual gender analysis.

It examines gender relationships in the beneficiary population, including roles, access to and control of resources, and the constraints different groups face relative to each other.

It is through this understanding that a gender-mainstreamed humanitarian programme can help ensure equal benefits to all people and avoid placing some at risk.

It is also essential that men and women have equal opportunities to actively participate in any humanitarian action, including at the strategic planning and decision-making level.

Both women and men need to be able to provide their own input into the programmes developed to improve the conditions of their households and communities.

But despite a number of developments in policy and practice aimed at integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into humanitarian action, what remains missing is a strong evidence base that demonstrates just how gender equality programming is essential to ensuring an effective, inclusive, rights-based humanitarian response.

To address this gap, in 2013 UN Women – on behalf of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Reference Group on Gender in Humanitarian Action and with co-funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada – commissioned the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex to undertake a research study, titled “The Effect of Gender Equality Programming on Humanitarian Outcomes”.

Its aim was to assess whether or not such programming has improved humanitarian outcomes and, if so, why.

A report has now been published that presents the findings of this research, which was based on interviews with more than 2,000 crisis-affected households gathered for four case studies conducted in Kenya (the Dadaab refugee camps and the county of Turkana), Nepal and The Philippines.

Drawing on both the qualitative and quantitative data collected, researchers were able to develop a unique new methodology for assessing the degree to which gender equality and women’s empowerment has been integrated into humanitarian programmes, using inputs from the beneficiaries themselves.

The report presents overall findings, draws comparative conclusions from the four case studies and discusses practical recommendations for integrating gender equality programming in future humanitarian interventions in ways that strengthen effectiveness and inclusiveness.

To read the report, click here.

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