New Gender Alert highlights need to support women and girls in the humanitarian response in Yemen


Since March 2015, open conflict amongst rival factions has spread across Yemen culminating in the on-going Saudi led coalition’s bombing of targets in Houthi controlled sections of the country. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports 21.1 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.26 million internally displaced people. According to a new Gender Alert on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, approximately 20 to 30 per cent of displaced households are female headed, increased from about nine per cent before the current crisis. This is due in large part to many men and boys having been recruited to fight, injured or killed.

The new alert from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Reference Group on Gender in Humanitarian Action, reports 10,500 refugees and migrants that have arrived by sea since the beginning of the ongoing conflict – primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia. Those making the sea crossings – and particularly women and girls – are vulnerable to abduction, attacks, drowning, exploitation and sexual assault.

Women are disproportionately affected by the current crisis due to restrictions of mobility, decision making power and lack of access and control over resources. They also have poor access to information, whether it is regarding their rights, or helpful information such as hygiene promotion material. Due to insecurity,  lack of access and shifting regional and tribal variations of gender equality, a detailed picture of the current plight of crisis affected women and girls across the country has yet to be established.

The Gender Alert emphasizes how essential it is that the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank planned damage and loss assessment (and any other needs assessment) reflect gender in their scope and analysis and are based on accurate sex and age disaggregated data, so that the needs and vulnerabilities of the women, men, girls and boys of the crisis affected population are adequately identified and addressed.

UN Women – together with the World Food Programme and the Women’s Refugee Commission – is a co-chair of the IASC Reference Group which is made up of UN and non-UN agencies, NGOs and civil society organizations and promotes the integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment in global humanitarian efforts.

Read the full gender alert here: Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen Gender Alert: July 2015