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Gender-Equality Programming

Promoting gender equality must be central to the humanitarian community’s commitment to protect and provide assistance to people affected by emergencies. Conflicts and disasters impact women, girls, boys and men of various ages and backgrounds differently. Gender, age, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds greatly affect the roles people play in their family and community, and how they are affected by a crisis. Humanitarian planning and assistance must contribute to gender equality by effectively identifying and responding to the needs and priorities of women, girls, boys and men.

Humanitarian response informed by gender analysis means that humanitarian action must be informed by a meaningful gender analysis that identifies the needs, capabilities and priorities of women, girls, men and boys.

Participation of women and girls – Inclusive humanitarian action that meaningfully engages women and girls in humanitarian decision-making will lead to a more effective humanitarian response. Women often play prominent leadership roles within their communities, and they can offer unique insights based on their experiences, challenges and opportunities.

Prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) – As a humanitarian coordinating agency and a member of the global Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies, OCHA is responsible for ensuring that SGBV prevention and response are prioritized as immediate life-saving priorities across all sectors and clusters. 


Gender Handbook [Arabic - English - French - Spanish]
IASC Gender with Age Marker [Interactive - PDF]
IASC Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap)
GBV Guidelines


OCHA’s Role in Gender-Equality Programming

Given OCHA’s mandate as a humanitarian coordinating agency, it plays a unique role in ensuring coherent responses to emergencies that are pivoted on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. OCHA integrates gender into all areas of its core mandate: in the planning and implementation of programmes, policies and procedures, and in reporting and results assessments. 


  • Integrate gender throughout the Humanitarian Programme Cycle. 
  • Engage local women’s organizations, specialized agencies, NGOs and other actors working on gender equality.
  • Support humanitarian leadership on integrating gender into every aspect of a humanitarian response. 


  • Ensure that communications and advocacy activities are gender responsive. 
  • Advocate gender equality and women’s empowerment, the prevention of GBV, and women’s participation in humanitarian action. 

Information Management

  • Apply a meaningful gender analysis, including the collection and use of sex- and age-disaggregated data. 
  • Develop gender-responsive information products that capture the differential impacts of women and men of all ages and backgrounds.

Humanitarian Financing 

  • Ensure OCHA-managed humanitarian financing continues to be gender responsive. 
  • Systematically include gender-equality programming by applying the IASC Gender with Age Marker (GAM).


  • Support IASC processes. 
  • Ensure strong links between humanitarian policies and other key global policy processes, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.  



OCHA Policy Instruction on Gender Equality (2021–2025) 

The OCHA Policy Instruction on Gender Equality 2021–2025 reflects a UN commitment and obligation to fully achieve gender equality by all staff, within all areas of OCHA’s core mandate in the planning and implementation of its programmes, policies and procedures, reporting and the assessment of results across its core functions of coordination, advocacy, policy, information management, and humanitarian financing. The Policy Instruction is aimed at ensuring that gender equality considerations are taken into account in all aspects of the humanitarian programme cycle.
The Policy Instruction outlines OCHA’s seven Priority Commitments on Gender Equality, which aim to strengthen OCHA’s delivery on gender-equality programming in humanitarian action:  
  1. Promote gender-responsive Humanitarian Programme Cycle processes.
  2. Prevent and respond to GBV in emergencies.
  3. Strengthen inter-agency partnerships on gender-equality programming. 
  4. Promote strategic linkages between gender in humanitarian action and key global processes.
  5. Ensure that OCHA-managed humanitarian financing mechanisms continue to be gender responsive.
  6. Facilitate the meaningful participation of women and girls in humanitarian decision-making.
  7. Strengthen field-level humanitarian leadership on gender-equality programming by HCs, HCTs and inter cluster/sector working groups. 

Gender-based violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is an umbrella term for any harmful act perpetrated against a person’s will, and which is based on socially ascribed gender differences between females and males. It includes acts that inflict physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering; threats of such acts; coercion; and other deprivations of liberty. These acts can occur in public or private.

Crises can deepen GBV risks for women and girls. For example, they can be attacked as they perform gender roles such as fetching water, food and firewood, and during mobility.

Therefore, humanitarian actors must ensure that their actions and initiatives prevent and address GBV. Conflict-related sexual violence presents a huge challenge and has become more prevalent. Addressing rape or other forms of conflict-related sexual violence is a priority in humanitarian settings because they have immediate and life-threatening health consequences.

One of the Priority Commitments in the OCHA Policy Instruction on Gender Equality (2016–2020) is for OCHA to leverage its leadership in humanitarian action to strengthen collective efforts to prevent and respond to GBV.

Key Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) processes

OCHA supports IASC processes, such as the IASC Gender with Age Marker (GAM) and the IASC Policy (and Accountability Framework) on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action, and the IASC Guidelines for Integrating GBV Intervention in Humanitarian Action. It supports the roll-out of the IASC Gender Handbook in Humanitarian Action, and it co-chairs the IASC Gender Reference Group. OCHA further hosts the IASC Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap).