Institutionalizing Gender in Emergencies: Case study of Ethiopia

from Oxfam
Published on 16 Mar 2017 View Original

This case study describes implementation of the project Institutionalizing Gender in Emergencies: Bridging Policy and Practice. The project, supported by ECHO Enhanced Response Capacity and Oxfam, has been implemented by Oxfam in Ethiopia between September 2015 and March 2017


Despite GDP growth, nearly a quarter of Ethiopia’s 94 million people suffer chronic poverty (including 8 million people already covered by the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP)). A devastating drought, worsened by the effect of El Niño, has led to shortage of food and a lack of clean water for millions of people across the country. Ethiopia is one of the largest refugee hosting countries in Africa, hosting more than 700,000 refugees fleeing from neighbouring countries. Other humanitarian crises include flooding in some parts of the country, and disease outbreaks such as acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) and scabies.

Ethiopia has low human development outcomes and very high gender inequality. Oxfam's long experience in Ethiopia has shown how gender affects distinct segments of the population differently in humanitarian crises. The suffering of women and girls is often compounded further by existing gender differences and historical patriarchy in households and communities. Men, by contrast, experience negative psychological effects as they are not able to provide for their families, according to the recent Gender Analysis conducted by the project.

The Ethiopian government's national strategy on disaster risk management recognizes that women, children, elderly people and people with disability are the most vulnerable groups to impacts of hazards and related disasters. Moreover the most recent update of humanitarian requirements states that pre-existing gender inequalities exacerbate risks, that women and girls have especially limited access to basic services, and that women and girls are at higher risk of gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies. It identifies partners and coordination arrangements needed in order to prevent, mitigate and respond to the protection risks of vulnerable groups.

In 2012–13, core members of a Gender in Humanitarian Action Steering Group (led by Oxfam and including Concern Worldwide, GOAL, CARE, ChildFund, and the Consortium of Christian Relief & Development Associations (CCRDA) were supported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) to work on developing better humanitarian practice. Interventions included improving capacity for gender mainstreaming, establishing common tools and standards, and revisiting organizational policies.

This project builds on and develops that work.


Globally, good policies and international standards on gender in emergencies do exist. However, the implementation of humanitarian assistance with a strong gender perspective remains ad hoc, with limited accountability of implementing agencies.

This project: Institutionalizing Gender in Emergencies: Bridging Policy and Practice was designed to explore how to better institutionalize gender-related standards in humanitarian assistance. The project was built on an analysis of policy and practice both at a global level and at country level. The project was piloted in four pilot countries: Ethiopia, Pakistan, South Sudan and Dominican Republic from September 2015 to March 2017.

The project in these four countries focused on the following issues in which significant gaps were identified:

• Insufficient gender analysis and evidence to inform humanitarian response planning and practice;

• Low technical capacity in gender in emergencies across sectors and organizations;

• A lack of coordination on gender across different agencies to support sector programmes;

• Lack of accountability for implementation of gender-related standards within organizations and across the humanitarian system.