Humanitarian action

Photo: UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani
Photo: UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani

When crisis hits, women and girls are disproportionately affected. Such impacts include loss of property and livelihood opportunities, limited or no access to critical services such as healthcare and education, as well as exposure to increased risks of gender-based violence (GBV). Their vulnerability is further exacerbated by the existing gender inequality and discrimination prevailing in societies.

As the world faces increasingly complex and compounding crises from conflicts, climate disasters, and pandemics, it is critical to understand their differentiated impacts on affected women and girls from the very start to better respond to their specific needs. The response should be tailored not only to filling their immediate needs, but also to integrating resilience-building for women and girls against future shocks and transforming discriminatory and harmful social norms to positive, gender-equitable ones.

Women and girls in crisis are not only victims but also responders. They often know best the needs of their households and communities and can contribute to immediate responses at the grassroots level. It is crucial to strengthen women’s leadership capacities, especially of local women’s organizations, so that they can engage in humanitarian decision-making.

Our solutions

Leveraging its experience and expertise in gender equality and the empowerment of women, UN Women engages in humanitarian response efforts in more than 40 crisis-affected countries, ensuring gender commitments in humanitarian coordination mechanisms and providing crisis-affected women and girls with psychosocial support, livelihood assistance, second chance education, skills development, and vocational training.

In humanitarian coordination spaces, UN Women has promoted gender-responsive humanitarian action through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the highest-level humanitarian coordination forum in the UN system, including by development of the IASC Gender Policy and an accompanying monitoring mechanism on Gender Accountability Framework. UN Women also leads the IASC Reference Group on Gender and Humanitarian Action.

UN Women’s joining the IASC as a full member in October 2022 affirms not only a stronger commitment to incorporating a gender lens in humanitarian coordination, but also increased responsibility for UN Women in humanitarian action. UN Women will further strengthen its capabilities to coordinate gender commitments in humanitarian action and to deliver critical services necessary for crisis-affected women and girls.

Guided by the “UN Women strategic plan 2022–2025”, UN Women outlines its commitments to the humanitarian community in the “UN Women humanitarian strategy (2022–2025) in brief”. See also the “Humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction: 2021 annual report”.