5 Essential steps to integrate gender-based violence in other programs

Day after day, we start realizing that humanitarian action is most effective when it focuses not only on meeting the immediate needs of those most affected but also on protecting the rights and long-term wellbeing of the most vulnerable at every stage.

Gender-based violence is among the highest protection challenges individuals, families, and communities face during humanitarian emergencies.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) developed many guidelines to provide some initial ideas to colleagues on how to tackle this throughout a project cycle. The guidelines are designed for those who are involved in the design and implementation of different sectoral programs not focused on GBV and provides some simple recommendations that any project can integrate into their plans ideally during the planning phase, but can also consider even after a project is up and running. 

But the question is, what necessary actions do we need to take, and how do we do that? Here is some recommendations:

  1. Read and learn more from the IASC  Guidelines which will assist you and other humanitarian actors and communities affected by armed conflict, natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions for the prevention and mitigation of gender-based violence (GBV) across all sectors of humanitarian response.
  2. Know more about gender norms as part of your gender analysis activities. This can be done by looking at existing data on GBV as well as by reaching out to existing GBV actors and key informants that work in the target communities, and building in questions about norms, available resources during other planned community assessments.
  3. Create or find a service map/referral pathway. When reaching out to GBV actors and critical informants, find out from them if a referral pathway exists, and if not get their assistance to create one. You can also use already planned resource/service mapping exercises to collect information for the reference list.
  4. Engage men and boys in your discussions to know the root of the problem and encourage them to abandon harmful stereotypes, embrace respectful, healthy relationships, and support the human rights of all people, everywhere.
  5. Provide your team and staff with basic GBV training. Equip them with the minimum ethical ways in which to respond when GBV might be disclosed to them in the course of a project by a participant. Ensure that they are aware of the best practices, the guidelines and the safe referrals.

As implementers in sectoral programs, while the idea of handling GBV ethically and appropriately can feel intimidating, it is encouraging to see how organizations are mainstreaming GBV across other sectors.

I encourage each one of us to think about how our work across every sector has a role to play in preventing and mitigating GBV and have a look at ( IASC Gender Handbook, GBV guidelines, Gender in Humanitarian Action package, Gender with Age Marker toolkit and/or Gender Equality Measures and guidance), these are beneficial resources, and you can find it with many other resources at https://gbvguidelines.org/en/

Failure to take action against GBV represents a failure by humanitarian actors to meet their most basic responsibilities for promoting and protecting the rights of affected populations.

All national and international actors responding to an emergency have a duty to protect those affected by the crisis; this includes protecting them from GBV. In order to save lives and maximize protection, essential actions must be undertaken in a coordinated manner from the earliest stages of emergency preparedness

And all of us—humanitarian organizations, coordinators, country teams, clusters, and donors—have a responsibility to integrate gender-based violence programming in every aspect of humanitarian action

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