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OCHA joins call for more accountability to address gender-based violence in emergencies

31 Oct 2019

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Speakers at the 2019 SVRI forum on gender-based violence. Credit: OCHA

As part of continuing efforts to amplify and galvanize advocacy and collective action on the response to and prevention of gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies, OCHA joined more than 770 researchers and practitioners in a week-long research conference focused on tackling the issue.

The global forum was hosted by the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) from 21 to 25 October 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. SVRI aims to increase awareness and promote research on sexual violence and its linkages to other forms of violence.

OCHA’s Senior Gender Advisor, April Pham, presented in a session dedicated to GBV in humanitarian and conflict settings, in which she emphasized the need for collective action.

“We need to work with those who are NOT in the room,” said Ms. Pham. “Government officials, legislators, policy and decision makers, educators, philanthropists, men and boys, to name a few. Unless we take the conversation well beyond this room, all the research and investment we make in the field will not matter. Gender-based violence will continue. More women and girls will suffer.”

Ms. Pham noted that moving the needle on the issue will involve making the response to violence against women and girls everyone’s responsibility.

“To address gender-based violence, we must redistribute the power imbalance. This is particularly true in conflict and humanitarian emergencies,” she said. “While these crises expose women and girls to high risk of gender-based violence, they also present opportunities to engage in transformative gender work.”

For its part, OCHA is leading an inter-agency evaluation of gender equality and women’s empowerment to find out how we can improve the situation for women and girls in crises. OCHA is also strengthening advocacy to address GBV, and supporting and amplifying the work of gender and GBV experts.

Ms. Pham also chaired a session on ‘People with Disabilities and GBV Programmes’. The session heard from speakers from the disabilities sector, including women with disabilities, who asked that women and girls with disabilities be included in programming and policy work.

Other sessions during the forum – which is held every two years – focused on ‘Gender-Based Violence in Emergency Settings’. In that session, Ms. Pham helped to present the GBV Accountability Framework, a development from the Real Time Accountability Partnership in which OCHA is a key stakeholder.