Global norms and standards: Humanitarian action

A number of internationally agreed norms and standards relate to gender and humanitarian action.

World Humanitarian Summit and Grand Bargain

UN Women played a crucial role in ensuring that gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment was an overarching theme at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 in Istanbul. Twenty per cent of all commitments by Member States, humanitarian and development community addressed gender issues. These commitments will guide the work of the international humanitarian system going forward.

As noted in the Secretary-General’s report on the outcome of the WHS, the Summit confirmed that gender equality, fulfillment of women’s and girls’ human rights and their empowerment in political, humanitarian and development spheres is a universal responsibility. UN Member States, UN entities, the private sector and civil society organizations agreed on the need to support local women and women’s organizations by positioning them as leaders in humanitarian work.

During the WHS, UN Women co-convened the high-level roundtable on “Women and Girls: Catalyzing Action to Achieve Gender Equality”, which resulted in 446 commitments. A total of 509 commitments made at WHS specified targeted actions for gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment, including five core commitments made under the high-level round table.

The WHS also produced the Grand Bargain, a groundbreaking agreement between the 15 biggest donors and 15 biggest aid providers to reform humanitarian financing. As the coordinator of the “Informal Friends of Gender Group for the Grand Bargain”, UN Women is working with all signatories to ensure that the WHS commitments to women and girls are integrated throughout the implementation of the Grand Bargain. Both the WHS and the Grand Bargain emphasized investing in local women and women’s organizations and enabling their active participation and leadership in humanitarian action.

A year after the WHS, UN Women, in partnership with ActionAid and Women’s Refugee Commission, analyzed the progress made towards achieving gender-related WHS commitments.

Sendai Framework

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 framework, adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, is a voluntary non-binding agreement among Member States. It recognizes that Member States, along with other stakeholders such as local governments and the private sector, have a role in reducing disaster risk. The framework aims to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods, health and economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets. It specifically recognizes the critical importance of women’s leadership and participation in the formulation and management of all disaster risk polices, plans and programmes and calls for a gender perspective to be included throughout disaster risk reduction efforts.

As amember of the DRR Focal Point Group, UN Women plays an active role in revising the UN Plan of Action to strengthen the integration of gender in disaster risk reduction.

New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was adopted during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in 2016. It is an expression of “the political will of world leaders to protect the rights of refugees, save lives and share responsibility for large movements on a global scale.” Recognizing the challenges of global mobility, Member States have committed to take action to address the vulnerabilities faced by migrants and refugees as well as to increase international cooperation in support of host countries and communities. The New York Declaration includes commitments to protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, recognizing the rights of women and girls and the pivotal importance of their participation.

Integrating gender perspectives in humanitarian action

The UN Economic and Social Council adopted resolutions E/RES/2012/3, E/RES/2013/6 and E/RES/2014/2 in 2012, 2013 and 2014, which recognize that humanitarian action can be strengthened by mainstreaming a gender perspective into all aspects of the humanitarian response. Resolution E/RES/2014/13 was adopted in 2014, which emphasizes on strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations

The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action identifies specific actions for governments to take to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. It explicitly draws attention to the gender and sexual violence that impacts women in both armed conflict and natural disaster situations.

Humanitarian Charter

In 2010, the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response was updated to better define the minimum standards of humanitarian action in order to provide better quality assistance to individuals impacted by crisis, especially women and girls. The Charter, endorsed by the UN’s key humanitarian coordination body, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, provides the ethical and legal backdrop of humanitarian work.

Women, Peace and Security Resolutions

The UN Security Council resolutions 132518201888, 18891960, 2106, 2122, and 2242 all promote women, peace and security. The resolutions emphasize the importance of protecting women in a crises situation and recognize their role in conflict resolution.

Ending violence against women during crisis

The Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies is a multi-stakeholder initiative supported by governments, international organizations, and civil society organizations to fundamentally transform the way gender-based violence (GBV) is addressed in humanitarian action.

UN Women has committed to ensure that the Call to Action’s principal goals are reflected throughout its work in humanitarian action, in the areas of coordination, programming and capacity development.

Natural disasters

In recognizing the disproportionate impact of natural disasters on women, a variety of international agreements have made reference to the need for gender equality in disaster risk reduction. Most notably, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2012 and 2014 adopted resolutions 56/2 and 58/2, respectively, both calling for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women in natural disasters; the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, which states that “a gender perspective should be integrated into all disaster risk management policies, plans and decision-making processes, including those related to risk assessment”; and The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 framework

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