Humanitarian action

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

When crisis occurs, people’s lives change in an instant. Death, injury, displacement, and the destruction of infrastructure and institutions impact entire communities as a result.

Crises impact women, girls, boys and men of all ages differently. As a result, their needs and interests differ, as do their resources, capacities and coping strategies. Women are often the first responders to a crisis, and they play a central role in the survival and resilience of families and communities.

Women and girls are not helpless victims. Humanitarian efforts must recognize the fact that women and girls—like men and boys—have much to contribute in preparing for, and responding to, crises. Women must be included in decision-making about the forms of assistance and protection they need. Humanitarian action can also present opportunities for new and more progressive gender roles and relationships to emerge.

Our solutions

UN Women is committed to ensuring equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of humanitarian action. Our work in humanitarian action is guided by a series of international commitments and are set out in the UN Women Humanitarian Strategy 2014–2017.

Through its inter-agency leadership and coordination role, UN Women supports other UN organizations in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in their humanitarian efforts. We assist Member States in implementing policies and commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment in humanitarian action. We also promote the voices, agency and capacity of women’s civil society organizations and national women’s machineries in humanitarian efforts.

UN Women fulfils its humanitarian role by providing coordination and leadership, technical expertise, capacity-building, and evidence-based response and advocacy to the global humanitarian system.

UN Women is also engaging in preparations for the first World Humanitarian Summit which will take place in Istanbul in May 2016. The objective of the summit is to find ways to strengthen the global efforts to save life and reduce hardship in crisis. This requires a strong focus on gender equality and women’s rights to ensure that new humanitarian solutions benefit women and men equally.

Download a two-page thematic brief on UN Women’s work on humanitarian action.

Women in humanitarian action

A woman refugee in Burundi.

We highlight UN Women’s continuous work to ensure women are involved as equal partners and agents of change in humanitarian action. More

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