Consideration of Gender

Consideration of Gender: focusing on girls, women, boys and men; PSEA; and protection against violence due to sexual orientation and gender identity

There is increasing recognition that humanitarian crises affect women, girls, boys and men in different ways. Failing to address these gender differences in humanitarian responses can have serious implications for the protection and survival of those caught up in disaster or conflict crises. Working from a rights based perspective which supports the equality of men and women should be a core consideration in all humanitarian intervention strategies. 

ICVA encourages the integration of gender issues into humanitarian programmes. It participates and contributes to:

Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap)

Created in 2007, this IASC initiative seeks to facilitate and strengthen capacity and leadership of humanitarians to undertake and promote gender equality programming, to ensure the distinct needs of women, girls, boys and men of all ages, are taken into account in humanitarian action at global, regional, and country levels. ICVA’s participation in the GenCap’s Advisory Board enables it to reflect diversity consideration during the revision of relevant policies.

ProCap and GenCap: Addressing protection and gender concerns during COVID-19 webinar, 10 June 2020: This webinar aimed to inform humanitarian leadership in the field and at global level on how they can avail themselves of this valuable resource, particularly at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges to humanitarian operations and there are increased reports of protection and gender concerns. It was also an opportunity for Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators (RC/HCs), Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) members as well as other entities at global level who have already had the experience of deployments and other support from the Projects in the past to share their experiences.


Safeguarding: Advancing protection from sexual exploitation, abuse (PSEA) and sexual harassment in the workplace (SHW)

Sexual exploitation and abuse of crisis affected populations and humanitarian staff by actors who provide aid is neither a new nor a standalone issue.  However, since the media disclosure of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) cases by humanitarian actors in February 2018, attempts across the sector to address the issue and increase protection against SEA have multiplied. PSEA cuts across the issues of gender, protection, accountability, localisation, power dynamics, faith and culture, and the nexus.

In March 2018, the ICVA General Assembly re-affirmed accountability towards the people its members serve, partners, supporters and the public at large. ICVA members adopted a Commitment and Motion to Action on Prevention of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation and Sexual Harassment mandating the secretariat to document and voice the PSEA work, challenges and good practices existing among members and identify recommendations to feed efforts at international, regional and national level. In further discussing the mandate, it was agreed to focus specifically in national and local NGOs. Localisation is one of the core commitments of World Humanitarian Summit and the Grand Bargain, thus efforts to strengthen PSEA build upon local knowledge and capacities.

The framing of ICVA’s response on not just the technical but also the cultural, root causes and political dimensions contributes to solutions-orientated reflections. ICVA is a critical and constructive voice of the new polices and their impact on resourcing and capacity building of smaller organisations.  Our two publications The Long Run to Protection Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse”  which shares the experiences of ICVA members on PSEA, and our discussion paper on “Humanitarian Ombudsperson” also contribute to the debates.

In 2007, ICVA hosted the Building Safer Organisations project which was one of the earliest attempts to address PSEA in the humanitarian sector. The Building Safer Organisations Handbook contains training materials on receiving and investigating allegations of abuse and exploitation by humanitarian workers. The Building Safer Organisations Guidelines were designed to assist NGO colleagues who conduct and manage investigations into sexual exploitation and abuse of people of concern by humanitarian staff.

ICVA also signed up to the “Disclosure of Misconduct Scheme”. This inter-agency scheme, led by the Steering Committee on Humanitarian Response (SCHR), establishes a minimum standard for humanitarian, development and other civil society organisations to share information as part of their recruitment process about people who have been found to have committed sexual harassment, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation during employment. Documents related to this scheme can be found here. Contributing to this scheme is part of our commitment to prevent and address abuse in the humanitarian sector.

ICVA's commitments and motion to action adopted by the ICVA General Assembly in March 2018 also included systems for preventing, detecting, and responding to misconduct. Read more about ICVA's internal and external reporting and communication on alleged misconducted by ICVA Secretariat staff and associates.

Key platforms for ICVA members to engage will be issues specific working groups (the Nexus and PSEA), and the regional working groups.