United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat that is responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors for a coordinated and coherent response to emergencies. OCHA integrates gender equality programming into all areas of its core mandate, and is guided by its Policy Instruction on Gender Equality (2016-2020) as well as other relevant internal and inter-agency frameworks.
As a humanitarian coordinating agency, OCHA is responsible for promoting that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention and response are prioritized as immediate life-saving priorities across all sectors and clusters. One of the Priority Commitments in the OCHA Policy Instruction on Gender Equality (2016-2020) is for OCHA to leverage its leadership in humanitarian action to strengthen collective efforts to prevent and respond to SGBV.
OCHA supports various Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) processes and tools, such as the Gender Reference Group, the Gender Handbook, the IASC Gender and Age Marker and the IASC Guidelines for Integrating GBV Intervention in Humanitarian Action. In 2013, OCHA became a signatory to the global Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies, including implementing actions in the five-year road map. OCHA commits to ensuring that the prevention and mitigation of and the response to violence against women and girls are incorporated into humanitarian response plans, and that humanitarian leadership strengthens SGBV programming. OCHA is a member of the multilateral Real-Time Accountability Partnership with UNFPA, UNICEF, IRC, USAID and UNHCR. The partnership promotes initiatives to strengthen system-wide accountability and recognition of the prevention of and response to SGBV as life-saving actions at the outset of emergencies. OCHA is also a member of the UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative. It works with other agencies on knowledge- and evidence-building, protection of civilians, strengthened response, and targeted advocacy to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence. OCHA also initiated and continues to guide and host the IASC Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap).
Areas of Focus
Coordination: OCHA contributes to the prioritization of SGBV prevention and response through support to Humanitarian Coordinators, Humanitarian Country Teams and inter-cluster/sector working groups. All sectors/clusters are required to incorporate concrete actions into their plans to prevent and respond to SGBV in emergencies. OCHA is strengthening partnerships with women’s organizations, specialized agencies and other actors, such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap) to promote the achievements of these objectives.
Advocacy: OCHA leverages its inter-agency role to advocate for the prioritization of gender equality and women’s empowerment, the prevention of and response to SGBV, and women’s and girls’ participation in humanitarian action.
Information Management: OCHA strives to ensure that information management highlights SGBV trends as well as prevention, mitigation and response actions in humanitarian reporting. OCHA requires all partners to apply a meaningful gender analysis, including the collection and use of sex- and age-disaggregated data (SADD) in cluster programming.
Humanitarian Financing: OCHA advocates for gender-responsive projects, including through OCHA-managed Country-Based Pooled Funds and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). It ensures the systematic inclusion of SGBV programming through the mandatory use of the Gender Marker in funded initiatives, and in reports on how gender and SGBV were addressed during project implementation.
Policy: OCHA refers to and disseminates key guidelines of the IASC, such as the IASC GBV Guidelines. OCHA also participates in coordination mechanisms such as the GBV Area of Responsibility, and in global policy processes such as the global Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies. OCHA also systemically promotes the inclusion of gender and GBV in intergovernmental policy processes and normative frameworks for humanitarian action, including relevant reports of the Secretary-General and the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs segment.
The Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action. 2017. Inter-Agency Standing Committee. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/iasc-gender-handbook-humanitarian-action-2017.
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Gender and Age Marker (GAM). 2017. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/iasc-gender-age-marker-gam-2018
The IASC Policy on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls (GEEWG) in Humanitarian Action. 2017. https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/gender-and-humanitarian-action
Different Needs - Equal Opportunities: Increasing Effectiveness of Humanitarian Action for Women, Girls, Boys and Men. 2010. https://www.interaction.org/resources/training/iasc-gender-elearning
OCHA Gender Equality Programming. https://www.unocha.org/themes/gender-equality-programming
OCHA Policy Instruction: Gender Equality: A gender responsive approach. 2010. http://www.unocha.org/sites/dms/Documents/OCHA%20Policy%20Instruction%20on%20Gender%20Equality%202016-2020.pdf
OCHA on Message: SGBV. https://www.unocha.org/publication/ocha-message-sexual-and-gender-based-violence
IASC Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap). https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/coordination/gencap/gencap-where-we-are.
Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies Road Map 2016-2020. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Call-to-Action-Roadmap.pdf
UN Action Against Sexual Violence. http://www.stoprapenow.org/.
Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Task Force. http://pseataskforce.org/.
The Real-Time Accountability Partnership Framework. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/RTAP_mockup_FINAL.7Sept2017.pdf
OCHA systematically advocates for the inclusion of gender and GBV in intergovernmental policy processes and in the normative frameworks for humanitarian action constituted by the humanitarian resolutions of the General Assembly and ECOSOC.
OCHA refers to and disseminates key guidelines of the IASC, such as the IASC GBV Guidelines. OCHA also participates in coordination mechanisms such as the GBV Area of Responsibility, and in global policy processes such as the global Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies and the Real Time Accountability Partnership.
OCHA formulates a time-bound Gender Policy Instruction every four years to strengthen the response to humanitarian crisis pivoted on a gender analysis and a framework that takes cognizance of the different needs, priorities, capacities, and voices of women and men of all ages and backgrounds. To guide gender equality programming, a Policy Instruction (2016-2020) was endorsed in June 2016, and OCHA has continued its implementation throughout 2017/18. This policy instruction constitutes a significant shift from a gender sensitive approach to a gender responsive approach that leverages the areas where OCHA has a comparative advantage and is pivoted on three key pillars: Accountability, Leadership and Investments in gender equality programming.
Gender analysis is at the core of OCHA’s central strategic planning and field-focused operational planning. The IASC Gender Marker, introduced in 2010, also guides OCHA-managed funding and financing. OCHA’s Country Offices has also played a key role in further mainstreaming gender in the Humanitarian Needs Overviews (HNOs) and Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs). In 2017, in 25% of HRPs gender analysis fully defined how HRP implementation took into account distinct needs/risks related to gender, and in 70% of HRPs gender analysis partially informed implementation.
In 2017, out of the 397 projects funded by CERF, 280 (71%) had a Gender Marker 2a indicating strong gender mainstreaming. A total of 77 (19%) had a 2b indicating a targeted gender action and 22 projects (6%) had a Gender Marker 1, meaning limited gender consideration. Eighteen (18 or 4%) were marked “Non- Applicable” as they dealt with the provision of common services to humanitarian partners (air operations, logistics, emergency telecommunications, safety and security), and none (0) were marked 0 which means that all CERF-funded projects for 2017 considered gender to an extent or another in their design. Gender Based Violence was the focus action of 27 projects (7%) of all the 397 projects funded by CERF in 2017, 234 projects (59%) had a GBV component, and 135 projects (34%) had no GBV related activity or component one (1) project was not marked for GBV.
All OCHA managed Country Based-Pooled Funds (CPBFs) apply the Gender Marker in all project proposals. In 2017, 79% of CPBFs projects were designed to contribute significantly to gender equality (76% in 2016), equivalent to $511 million. CBPFs provide the largest source of direct funding for local NGOs, including women’s organizations
In OCHA’s core digital assets – unocha.org, reliefweb.int and HDX – particular attention was given to highlighting how humanitarian crises impact women and children. For example, on ReliefWeb 1,835 documents were posted in 2017 on Gender-Based Violence and 1,288 Women, Peace and Security documents.
OCHA fully supports the implementation of the crisis component the Minimum Initial Services for Reproductive Health (MISP). Among other activities, CERF funds the deployment of GBV experts, the procurement and distribution of dignity kits, the procurement of the Inter-Agency Reproductive Kits including the kits #3 and #9 dedicated to the Prevention of Sexual Violence and the Assistance to Survivors of GBV, the establishment of Women’s Safe Places, the training on GBV of field staff and service providers, the awareness activities on GBV, and the community-based interventions to prevent GBV.
In 2015, as a follow-up to OCHA’s “Keep Her Safe” commitments, the CERF secretariat incorporated a dedicated self-assessment indicator on whether sexual and gender-based violence has been considered and/or mainstreamed in project design. This data is recorded in the CERF’s Grant Management System Database for tracking and analysis purpose. This marker helps CERF determine the amount of money that goes to GBV-related issues.
OCHA refers to and disseminates key guidelines of the IASC, such as the IASC GBV Guidelines and IASC Gender handbook.
OCHA also systematically integrates prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) for consideration in intergovernmental policy processes and inclusion in the normative framework for humanitarian action. In close consultation with the IASC, OCHA drafts the annual reports of the Secretary-General on Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, and on International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development, which contain policy discussions and recommendations on strengthening the gender and GBV aspects of humanitarian action. Importantly, in close collaboration with the IASC, OCHA also advocates for the report topics and recommendations in the intergovernmental fora, including at the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment, as well as in the Protection of Civilians discussion in the Security Council, including in OCHA’s briefings on behalf of the humanitarian community to the Security Council’s informal Expert Group on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. OCHA briefed the PoC Expert Group eight times in 2017, covering the situations in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan (Darfur), on conflict-related and broader sexual violence concerns such as rape, sexual slavery, trafficking of women and girls, sexual exploitation and abuse, and broader violence against women.
OCHA also facilitates an online platform - Platform for Action, Commitments and Transformations - www.agendaforhumanity.org, and tracks the implementation of WHS commitments and initiatives through an online reporting system.
2. OCHA participate in the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality: Task Force on Violence against Women.
3. OCHA is an active member of the United Nations Actions against Sexual Violence in Conflict network.
5. OCHA actively supports the roll-out of the IASC Gender Handbook in Humanitarian Action, and supports the development and roll-out of inter-agency tools, such as the IASC Gender Handbook. OCHA initiated and continues to guide the IASC Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap).
6. OCHA actively supports the IASC processes related to PSEA. OCHA participates in the network of IASC Senior Focal Points on PSEA and is also part of the IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.
Gender equality programming is a corporate learning priority for the OCHA Learning and Knowledge Management Board. A learning resources catalogue was produced with information on gender equality training (e-courses, onsite training, communities of practice) including a focus on Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Monthly Gender Community of Practice sessions are held for OCHA Gender Focal Points and three in-person trainings have been conducted on gender equality programming in humanitarian action. In total, 60 Gender Focal Points in OCHA have participated at the trainings. CERF has also funded training of hundreds of field staff and service providers on GBV.
At the leadership level and management level, OCHA initiates discussion on gender, GBV and PSEA at Heads of Office Meetings and Annual Retreats. Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) have an important role to ensure that gender equality programming is therefore central to humanitarian responses. 100% of the ERC-HC compacts incorporate gender, GBV and PSEA deliverables. HCs must provide field level strategic leadership and guidance to Humanitarian Country Teams and inter cluster/sector working groups to translate these important global level commitments, which are also well articulated in the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity, into concrete collective results and deliverables leading to elevated protection of women and girls from GBV.
In 2017, OCHA developed its ‘People Strategy’, which was launched in January 2018. The strategy encompasses specific long-term strategies and approaches to support the achievement of gender parity, such as leadership development and talent pools.
In line with the Secretary-General’s Bulletin “special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse” (ST/SGB/2003/13), OCHA has established clear structures and procedures for ensuring compliance with the zero-tolerance policy. Standard operating procedures are in place for submission and receipt of complaints, reporting, investigation and survivor assistance. PSEA focal points have been established in OCHA offices at headquarters, regional and country levels, and all staff members receive training and information on preventing and responding to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse.
One of OCHA’s 7 priority commitments on gender is to promote gender-responsive Humanitarian Programme Cycle processes. It ensures the systematic inclusion of SGBV programming through the mandatory use of the Gender Marker in funded initiatives, and in reports on how gender and SGBV were addressed during project implementation. As an example, the CERF project application and reporting templates require sex- and age disaggregated data. The application template also includes the IASC Gender Marker which is then recorded in the CERF’s Grant Management System Database for tracking and analysis purpose.
In addition, information and knowledge on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls have been disseminated through OCHA’s various advocacy platforms such as the corporate website, social media accounts, content websites (such as Medium, Exposure and YouTube) and email. OCHA has updated and edited two “OCHA on Message” products on Gender in Humanitarian Action and Sexual and Gender-based Violence. “OCHA on Message” are reference products that enables staff to communicate OCHA’s position on key issues. OCHA has also delivered remarks and statements containing messaging on gender and SGBV for the Commission on the Status of Women, the 2017 Global Humanitarian Policy Forum, the Center for Global Development and the Royal Institute of International Affairs and as well as briefings to the Security Council, among others.. For International Women’s Day, OCHA launched a successful social media campaign with its “Messengers of Humanity” community around their “Female Humanitarian Heroes” highlighting the professional achievements of women working in humanitarian affairs.
In August, OCHA’s annual World Humanitarian Day campaign centered around the hashtag #NotATarget and advocated for the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The campaign included a strong focus on sexual violence in conflicts, and what can be done to empower and support survivors. As part of a unique collaboration with Facebook, OCHA launched a brand-new Live filter, allowing users to step into the shoes of people affected by conflict as they read real stories from civilians trapped in conflict. The filter included a series of stories by women and girls to highlight the unique challenges they experience in crisis. As part of the campaign, SCB collaborated with UNFPA on a blogpost “Dispelling five myths about sexual violence in emergencies” which was published on OCHA’s Medium platform.
OCHA also supports the International Day to end violence against women and the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. In 2017, OCHA launched a digital campaign, which included an updated Facebook Live filter from World Humanitarian Day that exclusively featured stories of survival from women and girls affected by conflict. The Emergency Relief Coordinator and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as staff members from OCHA’s field offices, participated in the campaign by recording videos, where they shared the real stories of women trapped in conflict.