Addressing gender inequality amid conflict: Humanitarian situation in conflict-affected areas of Northern Ethiopia


Context and Rationale

The escalating conflict in northern Ethiopia left over 5.2 million people in Tigray Region in dire need of humanitarian assistance, including 2.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). At the time of the assessment, most of the Tigray population (91 percent) were facing crisis levels of food insecurity. The destruction of health facilities, water structures, and schools combined with acritical shortage of food, medicine, and other supplies as well as restricted humanitarian access increased the scale of humanitarian needs of all population groups.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia has affected all genders, ages, and people at-risk and marginalized groups differently. In November 2021, and in light of the growing humanitarian needs, the Humanitarian Country Team commissioned an inter-agencyi rapid gender analysis (IARGA) to identify the drivers of gender inequality that impacting access to humanitarian services in the three northern Ethiopia conflict affected regions (Tigray, Amhara and Afar, plus Oromia region of Southern Ethiopia), and to propose practical actions across the different cluster responses. The IARGA findings, which can be used to inform the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview and Results Plan, are collated through are view of secondary data, and a primary data collection conducted with 95 key informants in the Tigray Region from November to December 2021.

Background Facts


  • 5.2 million (91% of total population in Tigray) need urgent food assistance (50% boys and girls, 28% women, 22% men, including 18% with disabilities) (Endnote 2)

  • 2.1 million IDPs, and over 63,000 have fled to seek asylum in neighbouring Sudan (Endnote 2)

  • 83% of health facilities do not provide maternal services including prenatal care and deliveries.

  • 50.3% of pregnant and lactating women and 22.7% children are suffering from global acute malnutrition.

  • 80% of malnutrition cases in north Shewa in Amhara and southern Tigray are female-headed households. Young children say they are often excluded for food (Endnote 3) and adolescent girls often miss out (Endnote 4).

  • 30.5% of women in Amhara Region were able to decide on their own reproductive health care.


  • 412 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births nationally (Endnote 5)

  • According to the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace, and Security (2021), the following disparities are found nationally (Endnote 6)

    • 42% women literate (compared to 69% men)

    • 2.6 million children (57% girls) out of school

    • 54% rural females do not have access to education (compared to 14% urban males, 24% urban females, 39% rural males)

    • Households headed by single refugee women vs headed by refugee men are 3 times more likely to be in poverty (58:19)

    • 7 percent displaced women employed versus 24 percent host community men.

Recommendation Highlights

  1. Address food insecurity and nutrition needs urgently and ensure food and non-food items(NFIs) distribution are sensitive to age, gender and ability and that vulnerable groups are prioritized.

  2. Invest in rebuilding health care services, including urgently increasing funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights and mental health services, and reduce barriers for marginalized groups including IDPs to access these services.

  3. Increase safety and security of all vulnerable groups through protection mechanisms, prioritise GBV prevention, mitigation and response measures, and address root causes of gender inequalities.

  4. Involve all population groups in the response, including through stronger collection and use of sex, age, and disability disaggregated data: consult inclusively with vulnerable groups and offer accessible, inclusive feedback mechanisms.


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