Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action

Female leaders in Solomon Islands attend a Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action training. Photo: UN Women/Michelle Sanson

The Pacific countries are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters; Vanuatu ranked first, Tonga second and Solomon Islands sixth in the 2016 World Risk Report. The region also has high rates of gender inequality and the prevalence of gender-based violence is double the global average.

Because of these gender inequalities, as well as social and economic discrimination, some people have less visibility and may be overlooked during disasters. Global research has shown that women and children are 14 times more likely than men to be injured or killed in disasters. Additionally, following a disaster, women face increased rates of gender-based or sexual violence, unequal access to humanitarian assistance, loss of economic opportunities, and increased workloads. Despite this, women and girls are often excluded from disaster preparedness and response activities.

UN Women’s Fiji Multi-Country Office works with governments and humanitarian groups in the Pacific region to integrate gender and protection concerns into disaster preparedness and response – so as to ensure that humanitarian assistance promotes women’s safety, dignity, equality and empowerment.

The UN Women Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action programme focuses on four areas:

  1. “Mainstreaming” gender and protection – that is, making it a standard feature — throughout the humanitarian system in the Pacific;
  2. Strengthening the capacity of government departments and civil society organizations to contribute to and lead humanitarian responses;
  3. Mobilizing existing UN Women programmes to provide humanitarian assistance during disasters including helping survivors of gender-based violence and rebuilding marketplaces (75-90 per cent of vendors are women); and
  4. Coordinating preparedness and response across the region by leading the Pacific Humanitarian Protection Cluster Support Team, which comprises United Nations agencies, regional organizations and NGOs.

 

Seeds distributed with support from UN Women helped market vendors replant crops damaged by Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015. Photo: UN Women/Murray Lloyd

Key Project: Strengthening the capacity of organizations to include women in disaster planning and response

With funding from the Women's Peace & Humanitarian Fund, the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office supports four organizations to ensure women can participate and take the lead in the provision of humanitarian assistance and gain equal access to such assistance. They are Samoa Red Cross Society, Oxfam Solomon Islands, Medical Services Pacific in Fiji, and Save the Children in Vanuatu.

The fund is a rapid financing mechanism supporting quality interventions to enhance the capacity of local women to prevent conflict, respond to crises, and take advantage of opportunities for peacebuilding. It was previously known as the Global Acceleration Instrument on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action.