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The Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action

This Handbook usefully stresses that ensuring that all people affected by crisis are reached with a needs and capacities-adapted response is a matter of quality and effective programming, and is no longer a negotiable requirement for humanitarian actors. Integrating gender considerations into humanitarian programming contributes to enhancing access to assistance. By fostering meaningful participation of women, girls, men and boys, we can design our responses better. Affording protection to all groups in vulnerable situations must be a cornerstone of our efforts. We all need to do more to prevent and mitigate protection risks and ensure that adequate responses are provided. I hope that this Handbook will become an international resource that contributes to this work.
This handbook sets out the rationale for integrating gender equality into humanitarian action and provides practical guidance for doing so across sectors. The main objective is to support humanitarian actors in reaching all people affected by crisis by:

  1. Ensuring that the specific needs, capacities and priorities of women, girls, men and boys are identified and that assistance targets the persons and groups most in need;
  2. Informing women, girls, men and boys of their entitlements and available resources and engaging their participation and women’s leadership in programme design; and
  3. Monitoring and evaluating the impact of our programmes and strategies on those we assist, including identifying and dismantling barriers and discrimination, including by promoting and enabling women’s leadership at the community level and in other decision-making processes.

The handbook is divided into the following three sections:
PART A explains the basics of gender and why the integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment is essential to effective, participatory and equitable humanitarian protection and assistance.
PART B explains how to integrate gender into the different phases of a programme cycle, using the United Nations-led humanitarian coordination process — the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) — as the working example.
PART C provides specific guidance in 11 sectors: cash-based programming; camp coordination and camp management; early recovery; education; food security; health; livelihoods; nutrition; protection; shelter; and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This section sets out the key ways in which gender affects the outcomes of specific sectors and can be integrated across the HPC. The handbook provides practical guidance on developing sector-specific solutions using gender analysis. Given the importance of cross-sectoral coordination, where possible sector actors should review the content of all relevant sections and not just those that apply directly to their sphere of operations.
This Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action draws upon many tools, guidance documents and other resources developed by the United Nations, national and international NGOs and academic sources. Each sectoral chapter features a list of resources specific to that area of concern.