Towards Gender Equality in Humanitarian Response: Addressing the Needs of Women and Men in Gaza. A Guidebook for the Humanitarian Sector

The already grave humanitarian situation caused by the 18-month-long blockade of the Gaza Strip was compounded by Israel's 23-day military offensive in December 2008 and January 2009. The social and economic repercussions spread across all sectors of Gazan society, but were also mediated by men's and women's gender roles and identities.

Ignoring the different needs, capacities and contributions of women, girls, boys and men can mean that some segments of the population are overlooked, sometimes with destructive consequences. In the rush to provide humanitarian assistance, the appeal to pay attention to gender issues may seem irrelevant. However, it is crucial to ensure that the most necessary and appropriate assistance is offered to the population as a whole. This guidebook sets forth standards for the integration of gender issues from the outset of a complex emergency, aiming to enable humanitarian services to reach their target audience with the maximum positive effect.

The main framework for this guidebook is based on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) handbook on gender and humanitarian action, and it builds on the gender needs assessment survey conducted by the UN Inter-Agency Gender Task Force in March 2009. Main issues that arose from that survey were subsequently discussed in focus groups in various communities in Gaza in April and May 2009, organized by UNIFEM. The findings of the focus groups form the core of the data addressed in this guidebook.

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