Resources: Humanitarian Action and Crisis Response

Gender and gender relations in humanitarian crises

Women and Girls in Emergencies (2018) Copenhagen: Care Denmark

This report provides a helpful overview of the ways in which natural disasters and conflicts disproportionately affect women and girls, exacerbating existing discriminatory gender norms and social structures. The report examines key areas, including gender-based violence, maternal and reproductive health, women’s economic and social rights, and voice and participation. In the light of the funding and data and evidence gaps that exist for women in emergencies, the report calls for the incorporation of a much greater focus on gender and women in both policy and the allocation of resources.

Women, Gender and Disaster: Global Issues and Initiatives (2009) Elaine Enarson and P.G. Dhar (eds.), New Delhi: Sage Publications India, ISBN: 978-8132101482

Written in an accessible and non-theoretical style, this edited collection is divided into four thematic sections. The opening section on understanding gender relations in disasters particularly the overview chapter – is especially helpful in illustrating the effects of pre existing gender norms on women in disasters, and also on men. Subsequent sections focus on gendered challenges and responses, examples of women’s organised initiatives, and gender in disaster risk reduction, with many of the chapters providing valuable case studies from specific contexts and experiences.

Gender, Development and Disasters (2013) Sarah Bradshaw, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, ISBN: 978-1782544838

This book offers a thoughtful and in-depth consideration of the ‘gendering’ of the fields of 35 development and disasters, with a central plank of the author’s argument being that disasters need to be understood and addressed as part of the longer-term international development process. As well as chapters focusing on gender and the concepts of disasters and development themselves, the book covers disaster response, reconstruction, humanitarianism, and disaster risk reduction, with an especially interesting chapter on what the author calls ‘secondary disasters’. These are the negative psychosocial impacts of disasters, which can include gender-based violence, and which call for recognition and a co-ordinated response in post-disaster settings.

Gender, Emergencies and Humanitarian Assistance, BRIDGE Report No. 88 (1995) Bridget Byrne with Sally Baden, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies

Now nearly a quarter of a century old, this report is still very much worth reading. While the section on gender in emergency policy is out of date, with the policies cited having long since been superseded, the rest of the report is something of a foundational text, notable for its emphasis on an understanding of gender relations for comprehending and responding to the effects of emergencies on communities, rather than on simply addressing the immediate needs of women. The report’s discussion of gender and power relations, decision-making, and coping strategies is particularly strong.

‘Women, vulnerability, and humanitarian emergencies’ (2011) Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 18(1): 1–23

Discussing the issues of women’s ‘vulnerabilities’ in humanitarian emergencies, masculi- nity in humanitarian emergencies, and the gendering of security, this is a scholarly article that is accessible enough to help readers develop and deepen their understanding of these critical areas of concern. In her conclusion, the author, a human rights lawyer, calls for the elevation of civil and political rights in order protect women from the kind of gross, sex- based inequalities typical of emergency situations, and argues that viewing humanitarian disasters as hard to predict and hard to prepare for underplays ‘the predictability of human vulnerability and dependence’, which is experienced in highly gendered ways by both men and women.

Gender in humanitarian programming

The Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action (2017) Geneva: Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) (also available in Arabic, French, and Spanish)

Regarded by those in the sector as ‘the’ guide for ensuring that gender equality and women’s empowerment are mainstreamed throughout all stages of humanitarian programming, the IASC Handbook provides practical guidance for integrating gender into United Nations-led humanitarian action throughout the assessment, planning, resource mobilisation, implementation, and monitoring stages of the programme cycle, and applying gender analysis across a range of specific sectors. These include cash-based interventions, camp co-ordination and management, education, food security, and livelihoods. It also includes information on the IASC Gender and Age Marker.

Preparing a Rapid Gender Analysis: Gender in Emergencies Guidance Note (n.d.) Care International

The international non-government organisation Care has developed a methodology for conducting gender analysis in humanitarian crises that has been taken up by many other organisations, and incorporated into the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Gender Handbook (see above). This short note provides more information and guidance.

Gender in Humanitarian Action: Different Needs – Equal Opportunities (n.d.) UN Women

Aimed at humanitarian practitioners, this free online course provides guidance on the fundamentals of applying gender equality in humanitarian programming and response – including in camp management and co-ordination, education, food security, gender-based violence, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene. UN Women supports other United Nations bodies and humanitarian actors to ensure humanitarian responses adequately address the needs and rights of crisis-affected women and girls. It also plays a leading role in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender Reference Group which produces the IASC Gender Handbook (see above).

A Little Gender Handbook for Emergencies, or, Just Plain Common Sense (1999, reprinted 2012) Deborah Clifton, Oxford: Oxfam

A ‘how to’ guide aimed at humanitarian field workers, this short handbook written originally for the use of Oxfam staff continues to be a good starting point for those seeking an introduction to the key issues. Written by a humanitarian practitioner, in clear and accessible language, it first explains why a gender perspective is needed in emergency response. It then describes how to ‘do gender’, from the initial situation assessment, through to monitoring, evaluation, and the assessment of further project proposals.

The Effect of Gender Equality Programming on Humanitarian Outcomes (2015) Institute of Development Studies and UN Women

In a context of a continued absence of data on gender in humanitarian interventions, and specifically, in this case, the value of gender equality programming (GEP), this 2015 report from UN Women assesses the efficacy of GEP in ensuring an inclusive and effective humanitarian response. Research combined quantitative and qualitative methodologies,
including input from beneficiaries themselves, and the report details the development of a measure – the Gender Equality Programming Index – which UN Women hopes will go on to be used as a practical monitoring tool on the ground.

Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Intersex Persons in Forced Displacement: Need 2 Know Guidance (2011) UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva: UNHCR

This is a short guide intended for use by UNHCR’s own staff working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) refugees. It aims to ensure staff understand the marginalisation, discrimination, and violence LGBTI people face, both in society in general, and during displacement and resettlement. It provides guidance on inclusive protection and programming that responds to the specific, socially created vulnerabilities and needs of LGBTI individuals. This includes creating a safe and confidential identification and registration environment, and working with LGBTI civil society organisations who can provide support.

‘Reconceptualising and contextualising sexual rights in the MENA region: beyond LGBTQI categories’ (2018) Nof Nasser-Eddin, Nour Abu-Assab, and Aydan Greatrick, Gender & Development 18(1): 173–89

The authors of this article raise the issue of the safety and protection of refugees with non- normative sexual orientation and gender identities. To self-identify as LGBTQI can place a person at risk in many contexts. Labels may not feel appropriate. Another way of thinking about sexualities and gender is to focus on how these are played out in our lives, where we ‘perform’ sex and gender. This article draws on the experiences of non-normative refugees in the Middle East and North Africa region. The authors describe the development of their Sexual Practice and Gender Performance Framework as a potential way to support people who do not conform to heteronormative social norms, and to challenge those social norms in the wider community.

Women’s leadership and participation

Women and Girls: Catalysing Action to Achieve Gender Equality. High-level Leaders’ Roundtable (2016) World Humanitarian Summit

This document is a product of the landmark World Humanitarian Summit of 2016 – the first of its kind to be held. It lists the five core commitments made by member states and humanitarian actors on actions to promote gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment.

She is a Humanitarian. Women’s Participation in Humanitarian Action Drawing on Global Trends and Evidence from Jordan and the Philippines (2017) Howard Mollett, London: Care International UK

This report is a helpful survey of developments in current global humanitarian policy and practice, relating to understandings of women’s and gender issues, and how they are addressed. It illustrates four global trends with experience from Jordan and the Philippines. First, it sees a shift from viewing women as victims to women as first responders; second, a move from ‘tick-box’ gender accountability to a more rigorous approach to embedding gender in United Nations-funded responses, along with a recognition of the need to address staff commitment to gender equality; third, recognition of the need for greater accountability to women in affected populations; and fourth, a focus on local women’s groups and the World Humanitarian Summit’s Grand Bargain (committing donors and aid organisations to providing 25 per cent of global humanitarian funding to local and national responders by 2020).

On the Frontline. Catalyzing Women’s Leadership in Humanitarian Action (2016) Alison Barclay, Michelle Higelin and Melissa Bungcaras, ActionAid International

Prepared for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, this report presents the case for the importance of women’s leadership in humanitarian preparedness, response, and resilience-building. The report draws on research with women across a range of humanitarian contexts and sets out both the barriers to, and opportunities for, women to exercise leader- ship. Barriers include patriarchal gender attitudes and norms that restrict women’s participation in public space and undermine their contribution as leaders, and women’s burden of unpaid work. Opportunities identified include investing in women’s leadership in emergency response and preparedness, distributing resources directly to women and their organisations, and raising awareness of women’s rights in communities.

Women’s Leadership in Disaster Preparedness (2018) Action Against Hunger

This report, based on research by the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP), funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, argues that while current international frameworks are emphasising the importance of women’s leadership for effective humanitarian action, women’s existing experience and capacities in leadership are not fully acknowledged, and women leaders are not involved as they should be in decision-making. As a result, the capacities, knowledge, and resources they could bring remain untapped. The report provides examples where women are currently involved in decision-making, and examines the positive effects of women’s leadership. Interestingly, a finding of the research on which the report draws is that evidence of whether female leaders actually advance equality for other women is mixed. However, the report argues that grassroots women leaders are effective in ensuring that the specific needs of women and other marginalised groups are responded to.

‘Working to Improve Our Own future’: Strengthening Networks of Women with Disabilities (2016) Elizabeth Sherwood and Emma Pearce, New York: Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) (also available in English/Accessible (EPUB and DAISY), Arabic, and French)

Arguing that women and girls with disabilities tend to be overlooked in both disability and gender policy and programming in humanitarian contexts, this report presents the findings of a global mapping that identifies and documents the role of organisations of women with disabilities in humanitarian response, and suggests effective strategies for the inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in humanitarian and post-conflict programmes. The report is part of a larger WRC project aiming to support women with disabilities to advocate and take leadership on humanitarian issues at national, regional, and global levels, and address a vicious cycle of lack of funding and reduced capacity for their organisations.


Not What She Bargained For? Gender and the Grand Bargain (2018) Kate Latimir and Howard Mollett, ActionAid UK and Care International

The Grand Bargain is a landmark agreement, made at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016, between the world’s largest aid donors and providers. It commits them to making major changes in the way they work. These changes are designed to find the funding needed for humanitarian responses, cut bureaucracy, and ensure humanitarian responses are driven and directed far more by local and national actors. Twenty-five per cent of global humanitarian funding must go to local and national responders by 2020. While many commitments to gender equality were made at the WHS, there is no specific reference made to gender or to local or national women’s groups in the Grand Bargain agreement. This report – which finds little evidence of significant progress towards gender equality in the annual pro- gress reports submitted by Grand Bargain signatories so far – outlines recommendations to promote women’s leadership and participation across the humanitarian reform agenda, focusing on the three Grand Bargain workstreams: localisation, participation, and cash.

‘What would a feminist approach to localisation of humanitarian action look like?’ (2018) Francesca Rhodes, From Poverty to Power, 14 August

With localisation a central plank of 2016’s Grand Bargain (see above), those working on gender issues in humanitarian action are concerned that a women’s rights and gender equality approach should be an integral part of this push to involve local actors in humanitarian response. In this thinkpiece, the author draws on Oxfam experience to set out a vision for a feminist form of localisation that is based on two central tenets; firstly, a recognition of the value of local and national women’s rights actors in humanitarian action, and secondly, the basing of funding and partnership models on feminist principles.

Women Responders: Placing Local Action at the Centre of Humanitarian Protection Programming (2018) Helen Lindley-Jones, London: Care International UK

This report focuses on (feminist, local) women responders, discussing what they do, and how they contribute to better humanitarian responses. The report assesses collaboration between international humanitarian actors and women responders, and makes the important point that work undertaken by women responders often does not fit into formal humanitarian-sector priorities. Instead, women responders typically address the specific challenges faced by women on the ground in a humanitarian crisis, while challenging gender inequalities rooted in pre-crisis social norms. While this makes their work hard to classify as solely either humanitarian or longer-term development, it nevertheless means that it is more likely to lead to gender transformative change.

Feminist Participatory Action Research and the Localisation Agenda (2018) Philippa Smales, DevPolicy Blog, 19 February

In this online piece, the author argues for the localisation agenda – with its intention to shift power relations and bring decision-making down to a local level – to be extended from implementation in humanitarian response to post-disaster development projects. To ensure that this does not result in women’s voices in participatory research being subsumed under those of ‘the community’, the author advocates the use of Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR). In FPAR, local women do not just collect data, but determine and own the research agenda, participate in the analysis, and make the decisions about the outcomes and actions. The author cites the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD) as an organisation using FPAR, and APWLD’s 2017 report, Changing Development from the Inside-Out: Feminist Participatory Action Research for Development Justice in Asia and the Pacific gives an excellent account of FPAR in practice.

Violence against women and girls and gender-based violence

What Works to Prevent and Respond to Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict and Humanitarian Settings? Evidence Brief (2016) The Global Women’s Institute and International Rescue Committee (IRC), Washington, DC: George Washington University and London: IRC

This report reviews existing evidence on gender-based violence in conflict and humanitarian crises and finds that solid data on prevalence and prevention remains poor. It nevertheless concludes that the available evidence suggests that violence against women and girls – particularly intimate partner violence – is a considerable problem in conflict and emergencies, and that the most successful programmes are multifaceted, address underlying risk factors, and actively engage all community members (not only survivors and/or perpetrators). Key areas for further study identified include assessing the effectiveness and identifying best practices for service delivery for survivors, as well as rigorous evaluations of prevention programmes, and programmes aiming to provide women with an independent means of making a living, to lessen their economic dependence on abusive men.

Gender-based Violence Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation with Refugee and Conflict-affected Populations: A Manual and Toolkit for Researchers and Practitioners (2017) Global Women’s Institute

This resource puts an emphasis on using gender and participatory approaches and on the ethical considerations involved in research and monitoring and evaluation of the incidence of gender-based violence (GBV), and GBV programming, with displaced and conflict-affected groups of people. It includes a summary of the World Health Organization’s Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Researching, Documenting and Monitoring Sexual Violence in Emergencies (2007), which provides general guidance for collecting such sensitive information. The manual also includes a guide for making appropriate ethical and methodological decisions when collecting and evaluating data, and a practitioner’s toolkit of data collection tools to support gender analysis.

Guidelines for Integrating Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action: Reducing Risk, Promoting Resilience and Aiding Recovery (2015) Inter- Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and Global Protection Cluster

The IASC Guidelines are a key resource for those working in the humanitarian response sector. Recognising that during a humanitarian crisis many factors can exacerbate gender-based violence (GBV)-related risks, the Guidelines provide practical guidance and tools for co- ordination, planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of actions for the prevention and mitigation of GBV, throughout all stages of humanitarian response – from preparedness to recovery. Along with foundational principles, the Guidelines provide specific guidance on 13 separate sectors, including camp co-ordination and management; health; livelihoods; shelter, settlement and recovery; and water, sanitation, and hygiene.

‘Gender-based violence: a confused and contested term’ (2014) Sophie Read-Hamilton, Humanitarian Exchange 60 (February): 5–8

This short article highlights a lack of clarity in humanitarian response to the issue of gender- based violence (GBV). Differing, and sometimes conflicting interpretations of GBV exist – sometimes even within the same agency – with some seeing GBV as primarily an issue of violence against women and girls, and others as a protection issue that should include differ- ent forms of gendered and sexualised violence, such as sexual violence directed at men and forced recruitment of boys into fighting forces. The article charts the development of thinking and responses to GBV in humanitarian practice, and problems arising from simply add- ing concerns relating to men and boys to research and programming designed to address violence specifically directed against women and girls. It calls for humanitarian actors to be clear about which types and manifestations of violence their interventions are addressing, to prevent poor practice and potentially ineffective interventions.

A Safe Space to Shine: Creating Opportunities and Raising Voices of Adolescent Girls in Humanitarian Settings (2017) Sophie Tanner and Meghan O’Connor, Inter- national Rescue Committee

Adolescent girls living in crisis-affected communities are at increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual violence and exploitation, intimate partner violence and early and forced marriage. This report documents learning from the Creating Opportunities through Mentoring, Parental Involvement and Safe Spaces (COMPASS) programme, developed by the International Rescue Committee. The programme sought to address the specific needs of adolescent girls in relation to GBV by creating safe spaces for adolescent girls, delivering a life skills curriculum for girls through young adult female mentors, working with parents to develop a supportive environment, and training service providers.

‘We Keep It in Our Heart’: Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in the Syria Crisis (2018) Sarah Chynoweth, Geneva: UNHCR

Sexual violence against men and boys in humanitarian contexts remains an under- researched area. This report documents an exploratory UNHCR study into sexual violence against men and boys in the Syria crisis, both within Syria and nearby countries of refuge, and the availability and utilisation of services for male survivors in these places. The study revealed that while the extent of sexual violence was unclear, it was an issue that also affected individuals with non-normative sexual orientations and gender identities. It had devastating physical and mental effects for those who experienced it. Service provision was found to be patchy, with numerous barriers impeding service provision and accessibility. These included the stigmatisation of male survivors, a lack of awareness and dismis- sive attitudes among some humanitarian staff, and a shortage of experienced providers.

Human Trafficking in Humanitarian Crises (2018) Sarah Elliot, The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime

This informative online article discusses the growing recognition of the heightened need to respond to human trafficking in humanitarian crises. The author calls for actors to make use of pre-existing mechanisms and policies to develop more robust humanitarian protection programmes and counter-trafficking initiatives. The piece references a number of useful sources of information, including the 2016 report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on trafficking in persons, especially women and children (A/HRC/32/41), which discusses trafficking in conflict and post-conflict settings.

Mean Streets: Identifying and Responding to Urban Refugees’ Risks of Gender- based Violence (2016) Jennifer Rosenberg, New York: Women’s Refugee Commission

This report argues that a major shift in humanitarian responses is required to address violence faced by those at heightened risk in urban contexts. An increasing majority (nearly 60 per cent) of refugees now lives in cities, and this figure is expected to continue to rise as refugee camps become an option of last resort for displaced people. The report examines the risks of gender-based violence for different urban refugee groups: women; children and adolescents; LGBTI individuals; people with disabilities; men and boys, including male survivors of sexual violence; and refugees engaged in sex work. Recognising the intersectional nature of discrimination and the increased vulnerability this leads to, the author calls for innovative, tailored programming and outreach to deliver effective humanitarian responses that ensure all people are protected.

Shining a Light: How Lighting In or Around Sanitation Facilities Affects the Risk of Gender-based Violence in Camps (2018) Oxford: Oxfam International and WEDC (also available in French)

Many women and girls in displaced persons camps do not use the sanitation facilities provided because of sexual harassment and fear of violence. Humanitarian actors are recognising the need for more action to respond to a set of concerns familiar to feminist architects, engineers, and planners. This report provides a recent summary of research undertaken in particular contexts to show the impact of poor planning on gender-based violence, and the positive effect of lighting on rates of violence. The research sought to assess the effects of lighting in these areas, in an Oxfam response. Importantly, it illustrates that that a single intervention – in this case, lighting – does not fully address the issues. For example, in Iraq – one of the research locations – social norms around female presence in public space after dark mean women and girls are often considered ‘fair game’ for harassment and assault, and held responsible if attacked. Lighting did not address this issue. It suggests that communal facilities in public space are a risk factor, which can be mitigated further by single-sex or family facilities.

Women’s economic survival and empowerment

Choices, Chances and Safety in Crisis: A Model for Women’s Economic Empowerment (2019) Daphne Jayashinghe, London: International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Defining women’s economic empowerment as ‘the ability for women to safely generate, use and control resources’, this report describes the theory of change and the model developed by the IRC to illustrate the kind of preconditions that need to be in place in the market, workplace, community, household, and at the individual level for crisis-affected and displaced women to be able to safely use and control resources. Illustrated with case studies demonstrating the kind of work IRC is undertaking to fulfil these preconditions, the report ends with recommendations for the sector, which include the prioritisation of women’s economic empowerment measures early on in humanitarian responses.

Collected Papers on Gender and Cash Transfer Programmes in Humanitarian Contexts (2018) The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)

While cash transfers have become an increasingly common way of delivering assistance in humanitarian crises, there has been comparatively little research to date into their effects on gender relations. This collection of eight research papers seeks to develop the evidence base and explores areas such as women’s economic empowerment, nutrition, and gender- based violence (GBV). An overview paper from UN Women reviews emerging evidence around cash transfer programmes and the areas of GBV, early and forced marriage, early pregnancy, and negative coping mechanisms.

‘Gender and enterprise in fragile refugee settings: female empowerment amidst male emasculation – a challenge to local integration?’ (2018) Holly A. Ritchie, Disasters, 42(1): S40–S60

Drawing on two case studies – Somali refugees in Nairobi and Syrian refugees in Irbid and Zarqa, Jordan – this article looks at refugee women’s evolving economic lives and enterprise initiatives, and the effects of women’s economic activities on social dynamics in refugee communities. The article highlights the precarious nature of refugee women’s economic activities in refugee camps, where shifting gender roles and relations have led to tensions with male family members. Local authorities often restrict employment opportunities for refugee men, and women are promoted as economic agents and entrepreneurs within refugee communities.

Researching livelihoods recovery and support for vulnerable conflict-affected women in Iraq’ (2016) Rachel Sider and Corrie Sissons, Gender & Development 24(3): 427–41

This article reflects on the experience of an Oxfam programme to engage conflict-affected women in Iraq in economic life through understanding community and conflict dynamics. With the ability of women and girls to engage in livelihoods activities particularly disrupted by conflict and displacement, the programme sought to foster livelihoods activities that promote empowerment resilience. A key element of this work involved influencing local communities – and in turn, other agencies – to advocate for gender-sensitive livelihoods programming in such a fragile context.

Fostering Cooperation, Not Competition: How Syrian and Jordanian Women Could Create New, Sustainable Livelihoods Opportunities Together, Joint Agency Briefing Paper (2018) Leaders Consortium for Sustainable Livelihoods

This report notes perceived tensions between refugees and host communities over competition for work, in Jordan’s labour market. It suggests ways into work for both Syrian refugee and Jordanian host-community women, including co-operatives involving women from both groups. It highlights the obstacles faced not only by Syrian refugee women but by Jordanian women too, with gender-based barriers, such as caring responsibilities, and social and cultural norms affecting both groups of women, even while economic pressures on both groups keep mounting.

Gender and ICTs in humanitarian settings

‘Safety planning for technology: displaced women and girls’ interactions with information and communication technology in Lebanon and harm reduction considerations for humanitarian settings’ (2018) Kristy Crabtree and Petronille Geara, Journal of International Humanitarian Action 3(3)

Drawing on research undertaken with refugee women and girls in Lebanon, this article seeks to provide practical recommendations for service providers on how to safely introduce information and communications technology into programming for women and girls in humanitarian settings.

Bridging the Mobile Gender Gap for Refugees: A Case Study of Women’s Use of Mobile Phones in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement and Kiziba Refugee Camp (2019) Matthew Downer, London: GSMA

This clearly written and well-presented report provides concrete evidence on how the digital ‘gender gap’ translates to the refugee experience – looking at women’s degree of access to mobile technology, the barriers they face, and the benefits of mobile use in two refugee settlements in East Africa.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights

Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises (IAWG), www.

Formed in 1995, the IAWG is an international coalition of UN agencies, governments, and non-government organisations working to promote the sexual and reproductive health of people affected by conflict and natural disaster, its publication, Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings (2018), is aimed at humanitarian practitioners working in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Manual reflects existing global sexual and reproductive health and human rights standards, and includes chapters on contraception, abortion care, maternal and newborn health, HIV, gender-based violence, and sexually transmitted diseases.

‘Sea-change in reproductive health in emergencies: how systemic improvements to address the MISP were achieved’ (2017) Sandra K. Krause, Sarah K. Chynoweth, and Mihoko Tanabe, Reproductive Health Matters 25(51): 7–17

The Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) is a set of guidelines, developed by the Inter- Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises (see above) and recognised across the humanitarian sector, for ensuring the delivery of life-saving actions related to sexual and reproductive health, from the onset of a crisis through to the recovery phase. This article traces the history of the MISP in humanitarian crises from its creation in 1995, and charts the strategies adopted by inter-agency partnerships to push successfully for its widespread adoption following an initially low uptake. The authors argue that the success of these approaches offers lessons for health and other sectors seeking to better integrate emerging or marginalised issues into humanitarian action.

‘Let’s talk about sex work in humanitarian settings: piloting a rights-based approach to working with refugee women selling sex in Kampala’ (2017) Jennifer S. Rosenberg and Denis Bakomeza, Reproductive Health Matters 25(51): 95–102

This article discusses findings from a pilot project in Uganda that aimed to address the sexual and reproductive health and rights of refugee women engaged in sex work in Kampala, Uganda. It argues that while it is well-known in the humanitarian sector that refugees engage in sex work in order to generate much-needed income, a reluctance to address the issue has led to a worrying gap in provision of health and protection services for some refugees. The project generated some positive results, through tailoring services for use with refugees, and using existing rights-based and community-empowerment approaches already undertaken with host community sex workers. These helped to facilitate refugees’ access to a range of critical information, services, and support. These included information on contraceptives, referrals for friendly HIV testing and treatment, and peer counselling and peer networks.

Adolescent girls

Adolescent Girls in Disaster & Conflict: Interventions for Improving Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services (2016) United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Humanitarian crises heighten adolescent girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection, maternal death and disability, early and forced marriage, rape, trafficking, and sexual exploitation and abuse. This report from the UNFPA documents experiences from three types of UNFPA programmes aiming to reach and support adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. These are: safe spaces (where adolescent girls can make friends, receive counselling, and receive information on sexual and reproductive health); mobile medical teams, which bring essential services and supplies, including contraceptives, to adolescent girls in hard-to-reach locations when health systems are not functioning; and youth engagement, which aims to involve and empower girls within the humanitarian response itself, as first responders, data collectors, and so on.

Strong Girls, Powerful Women: Program Planning and Design for Adolescent Girls in Humanitarian Settings (2014) Katherine Paik, New York: Women’s Refugee Commission

This report seeks to support programming for adolescent girls in humanitarian contexts. The report documents promising approaches in programmes aimed at adolescent girls. Key recommendations include creating ‘safe spaces’ for girls – to develop social networks, knowledge, and skills; building mentorship and leadership models into programmes, help- ing to improve the status of females in the community; and economic programming, such as financial literacy and vocational training.

Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Experiences of Risk and Resilience Across Three Humanitarian Settings (2018) Plan International

This report is based on research undertaken in three locations – South Sudan, the Lake Chad Basin, and the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. It discusses the areas ident- ified by adolescent girls as being of most pressing concern. These were: fear – of armed men, but also of gender-based violence within families, including child, early, and forced marriage; increasingly restricted lives, with over-protective parents, fear of violence, and responsibility for domestic chores keeping them at home; lack of access to education; and the desire to have more control and power over their lives. The research found that in spite of the growing literature on the rights and needs of adolescent girls, they are rarely listened to in humanitarian responses. To address this, the report offers recommendations on the participation of adolescent girls in humanitarian responses, education, health, and security. These recommendations are directed to humanitarian actors, governments, and community leaders.

Institutional gender issues in the humanitarian sector

Opinion: Why We Can’t Separate Sexism from Racism in the Humanitarian and Development Sector (2018) Angela Bruce-Raeburn, Devex, 6 March

In this personal reflection, the author relates her experience as a woman of colour working in the aid industry, notably for Oxfam in Haiti during the relief efforts following the 2010 earthquake, where women were paid for sex by international aid workers. Revelations in 2018 regarding sexual exploitation and abuse have led to an ‘#AidToo’ moment, with individuals in the humanitarian sector bringing evidence of sexual exploitation, and also racism, to light. This piece highlights the power imbalances at play in the humanitarian world; between donors and recipients, and between international (usually white and from the global North) and national staff – with racist and colonial attitudes not only reflected in everyday interactions between staff members themselves, and those they are trying to assist, but underpinning the whole sector itself.

‘“A bit of a grope”: gender, sex and racial boundaries in transitional East Timor’ (2010), Roslyn Appleby, Multidisciplinary International Studies 7(2): 1–18

This article explores the tensions in gender relations experienced by white Australian female aid workers with men in the international aid community and with local men in East Timor. Aware of the history of colonialism and feeling themselves to be complicit in what they viewed as a new foreign occupation, the women downplayed incidences of sexual harassment by Timorese men, while readily identifying and naming that of male international aid workers. The author found that the women responded to harassment on the part of Timorese men by asserting notions of cultural sensitivity, even at the expense of a commitment to personal freedom and gender equality, regulating their own mobility in public spaces, and adopting ‘modest’ dress.

‘The (in)security of gender in Afghanistan’s peacebuilding project: hybridity and affect’ (2017) Hannah Partis-Jennings, International Feminist Journal of Politics 19(4): 411–25

This article, while containing a lot of theory and employing some scholarly language, nevertheless contains much of interest for non-academics. The author examines the gendered nature of peacebuilding in Afghanistan, finding it to be a ‘hypermasculine’, militarised environment in which female staff of international agencies experience a ‘hybrid’ identity, in which their international status affords them some power and freedom, but where they are still seen as needing to be protected by, or in need of protection from, men.

‘Building aid workers’ resilience: why a gendered approach is needed’ (2015) Alice Gritti, Gender & Development 23(3): 449–62

In this article, the author argues that while the concept of resilience-building is widely used in development and humanitarian literature in relation to communities in developing countries, the organisations involved in this work pay relatively little attention to the resilience of aid workers themselves. Her research found international women aid workers face specific stressors within the organisations they work for, in working relationships with national staff, and in their personal life. The author calls for humanitarian and development organisations to adopt a gender-focused approach to resilience, by providing psychosocial support for staff.

The Contemplative-Based Resilience (CBR) Project,

There is increasing awareness in the sector of the need to support for and build the resilience of aid workers. The CBR Project is an example of a response to the mental health issues faced by many humanitarian aid workers, suffering stress, burn-out, and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their work. This website gives information on the project, and Changing Aid, the company that has developed it. Changing Aid works with humanitarian aid organisations to provide their staff with psychological education and techniques such as meditation in order to address the mental health needs of staff members who are often reluctant to admit to any problems in this area.

How Can Humanitarian Organisations Encourage More Women in Surge? (2017) Sonya Ruparel, Clare Bleasdale and Kathleen O’Brien, ActionAid and Care International

‘Surge’ refers to the scaling up (and down) of resources, including personnel, in response to humanitarian crises. This report looks at some of the barriers that organisations face in increasing the number of women in surge response teams. It goes on to highlight some of the challenges faced by female humanitarian surge workers – including personal safety and security, child-care responsibilities, and dealing with menstruation. Finally, it offers recommendations on how these can be addressed by the sector.

Women in Humanitarian Leadership (2017) Ayla Black, Pip Henty and Kate Sutton, Melbourne: Humanitarian Advisory Group, Deakin University

This report examines the gender gap in leadership in the humanitarian sector at an international level. It identifies some of the reasons for this gap; some specific to the humanitarian field, while others apply to women in leadership roles beyond the sector. Some data in the report relate specifically to an Australian context, but the points are nevertheless applicable far more broadly. The authors also outline a number of areas for future research, which include gaining an understanding of what makes an effective leader in the humanitarian sector, and gathering evidence on the impact of women’s humanitarian leadership on programme outcomes.