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Review of Gender Mainstreaming in Rohingya Refugee Response in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (March - August 2018)

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Final Report for Reference (along with the Gender Profile No.2) by Sectors and Humanitarian Actors in Rohingya Refugee Response


The Inter-Sector Gender in Humanitarian Action Working Group (GiHA WG) under the InterSector Coordination Group (ISCG). GiHA WG is Co-Chaired by UN Women and UNHCR with Technical Support from Inter-Agency GENCAP.

The purpose of the “Review of Gender Mainstreaming in Rohingya Refugee Response” was to Assess progress made in implementing JRP/Strategic Executive Group (SEG) key actions on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls (GEEWG); Assess GiHA WG support to sectors in gender mainstreaming; Identify gaps and challenges; and Make recommendations for next phase of the JRP, with an action plan for implementation. A framework of analysis was developed to guide collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, through desk review, key informant interviews (KIIs) and ISCG needs assessment workshops for JRP mid-term review.

The review found strategy documents and guidance notes of sectors and agencies acknowledge the importance of collecting, analyzing and using sex and age disaggregated data (SADD) in planning and reporting the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Some good examples of how SADD has been used to inform programming include interventions and mechanisms for prevention and response to GBV. Older women and men among Rohingya refugees were identified to be facing challenges in accessing humanitarian services – with women facing more challenges than men. Other interventions informed by SADD include siting and design of WASH facilities and identification, and prioritization of the most vulnerable members of the refugee community for nutrition preventive and treatment services. However, collection and use of SADD is currently not consistent across sectors. There is, therefore, a need for data showing how women, girls, boys, and men are affected by the crisis with indications of how each subgroup is to be helped is being helped.

Whereas all refugees are facing economic challenges, women are particularly more challenged due to gender-based barriers which limit their access to humanitarian assistance and livelihood opportunities. While there are Cash for Work (CfW) opportunities such as Cash Based Transfers (CBTs), volunteering work, and livelihoods and skills development opportunities for women, majority of refugees in need are not yet covered. Most women are still burdened by unpaid care work, which limits their participation in CfW schemes. Some women who participate in CfW are less able to control the cash they earn. A recent rapid care analysis by Oxfam and partners showed on average a Rohingya woman’s week is made up of 72 hours of care work as primary activity. Women and girls should be protected from risks associated with CBIs by ensuring the principle of “do no harm” in the selection of modality, delivery mechanism, and service provider. Inadequate funding for the JRP has a direct effect on activities aimed at empowering women and girls.

Whereas humanitarian actors are encouraging the participation of women in service committees across the sectors, gender norms and conservative male attitudes restrict women’s participation, with adolescent girls particularly restricted. There is a need to integrate gender transformative and innovative approaches across the response. Capacity building efforts of sectors and agencies should include gender awareness and gender sensitivity training especially for camp and religious leaders, the majority of which are men. A specific attention should be payed to adolescent boys and girls, by supporting soft and hard life skills, education and sport activities.

Systems and interventions to improve access of survivors of SGBV and SEA to appropriate medical, psychosocial and legal redress have been set up. Similarly, documentation and reporting of SGBV is being undertaken. There is, however, a need for strengthening and replication of successful interventions across the response. Refugees need access to state led justice mechanisms for refugees.

While GiHA WG provides the much-needed technical support to sectors and agencies in mainstreaming gender, the lack of representation of some sectors in GiHA WG constrains efforts and limits how much sectors are benefitting from the support provided. Sector Coordinators should appoint and/or replace gender focal points who have left Cox’s Bazar.