Crises impact women, girls, boys and men differently. While often sidelined, women must be included in decision-making about the kind of assistance and protection they need during crisis. UN Women works to ensure equality between women and men as both partners and beneficiaries of humanitarian action.
We work proactively with humanitarian actors to ensure emergency response plans adequately integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment; that women and girls are equally consulted to understand and address their needs and vulnerabilities; that gender is mainstreamed into humanitarian assessments, reporting and monitoring tools; and that gender experts are included in the humanitarian teams responding to crisis.
In South Sudan, UN Women established “women-and-girls-friendly centres” in Juba, providing safe spaces for women to meet regularly to network, share, discuss problems and seek assistance. They also provide workshops on literacy, vocational skills, human rights, gender-based violence prevention, peacebuilding and reconciliation.
Disaster Risk Reduction
As disasters increasingly plague our planet, we are pushing for more gender-sensitive disaster risk reduction to analyse such risks and reduce their causes while taking into account the gender roles and norms within a given culture and society. UN Women promotes gender-sensitive policymaking, monitoring and evaluation as well as integrating gender in vulnerability, risk and capacity assessments. In several countries, we work hand-in-hand with governments and civil society to strengthen the role of women in disasters.
In Vietnam for example, after disaster-management training for women, coupled with national lobbying, a Government decree was issued in September 2013 provides an official space for their Women’s Union in decision-making boards of the Committee for Flood and Storm Control. As a result of UN Women training, before flooding began in the commune of An Dung, they had plans ready to evacuate people living in lowland areas, and no lives were lost.
After the Fiji floods in 2012, with support and technical assistance from UN Women, the Ministry of Women developed Standard Operating Procedures for Gender-Based Violence with specific considerations for humanitarian settings, and guidelines for evacuation centres to ensure protection of women and girls.
After the 2014 Cyclone in Tonga, UN Women supported national authorities’ efforts to disaggregate data on the affected population by sex and age, and helped ensure that both the Humanitarian Action Plan and protection assessment were gender-sensitive. Because the risk of violence against women and girls increases in the aftermath of a disaster, UN Women is also supporting training for first responders and disaster-risk-reduction planners in Fiji to prevent, recognize and address violence in emergencies across the Pacific.
Funding for gender-sensitive humanitarian action
However, this is expected to change as Member States recently committed to increasing financing for gender equality in a number of areas, including humanitarian action.
UN Women fulfils its humanitarian role by providing coordination and leadership, technical expertise, capacity-building, and evidence-based response and advocacy to the global humanitarian system.
UN Women is also engaging in preparations for the first World Humanitarian Summit which will take place in Istanbul in May 2016. The objective of the summit is to find ways to strengthen the global efforts to save life and reduce hardship in crisis. This requires a strong focus on gender equality and women’s rights to ensure that new humanitarian solutions benefit women and men equally.