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Gender Equality Project

Enhancing gender equality is an important area of policy for OCHA and the PDSB for three reasons: there is growing evidence that understanding gender relations and inequalities can help improve humanitarian assistance; within the UN system there are commitments to using a gender perspective and working towards greater equality between women and men; and third, evaluations have pointed out that gender mainstreaming has been a neglected area of humanitarian assistance. Gender mainstreaming refers to how OCHA works on gender issues in its substantive work.

OCHA is also the co-chair of the IASC Task Force on Gender and Humanitarian Assistance. One key output Guidelines on Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings: Focusing on Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence in Emergencies.

Key objectives

  • Implement the gender action plan
  • Raise the awareness of OCHA staff on gender issues
  • Coordinate inter-agency work on gender issues under the auspices of the IASC


OCHA’s gender mainstreaming project was in full swing in 2005, with the Senior Gender Advisor beginning work in March 2005. In 24 OCHA offices, gender focal points were named as the point of contact on gender mainstreaming issues.

OCHA reissued its policy on gender equality, and produced it and a gender equality toolkit in a userfriendly format complete with press kit. A progress report on the implementation of the Plan of Action on Gender Equality was prepared, highlighting the successes and failures of OCHA offices.

Guidelines have also been developed on strengthening gender analysis in CAP documents. A mini workshop was held in November 2005 to plot ways to further strengthen gender mainstreaming in the CAP, including by having a more predictable response to gender needs in CAP projects.

In 2005, capacity building with OCHA staff on gender issues was a priority. Gender training sessions were held with AIMB, CRD, IASC, IDD and while on mission to tsunami-affected countries. These efforts were crucial in raising the understanding of the policy and its implications for operations. Gender resource kits were sent to all field offices, including 10 key gender resources of UN and NGO partners.

The advocacy and information services of OCHA were very successful in mainstreaming gender issues. OCHA senior management continued to bring gender issues to the attention of donors, the media and other decision makers. They have communicated on several occasions to HCs and to OCHA staff on gender mainstreaming, and their expectations regarding the need to increased efforts towards the goal of gender equality.

Protection of Civilian reports to the Security Council dedicated more than 25 percent to the problem of protection of women and girls.

Performance evaluation

The implementation of the policy and action plan progressed, with some areas, such as advocacy and information, showing significant improvements: ReliefWeb increased by 30 percent the number of gender-related documents available online, OCHA Online has a new home page on gender equality and the OCHA Field Guide has been updated with all essential gender resources.

There is still improvement needed in implementation at the country level. Five of 22 countries (Angola,DPRK, DRC, Ethiopia and oPt) reported on the gender work in their offices in 2005, as did three regional offices (South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific). Four countries made specific mention of gender issues in their 2006 work plans.

At the inter-agency level, considerable attention was paid to ensuring the mainstreaming of gender issue into the Cluster Approach. The lack of specific fieldfriendly guidance on how to mainstream gender was recognised, and an IASC handbook on gender is under development. Indicators and tools to measure the degree to which gender is mainstreamed will be a key aspect of the gender handbook.




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