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Diverse SOGIESC Rapid Assessment Tool to assess diverse SOGIESC inclusion results in humanitarian contexts

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Manual and Guideline
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The 2018 Pride in the Humanitarian System (PitHS) consultation emphasized the importance of purposeful inclusion of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) in humanitarian and DRR programs. As a step toward this, the PitHS Consultation Report and the No Longer Left Behind call-for-action urged the development of diverse SOGIESC inclusive assessment and evaluation tools.

UN Women recognizes the importance of diverse SOGIESC inclusion, including within Gender Quality and Women’s Empowerment programs. This includes recognizing that more than two genders are needed to reflect the reality of all people’s lives, that some people are transgender, that being lesbian, bisexual, gay or having another sexuality often leads to different experiences of gender, and that intersex people may have any gender and that may not align with societal expectations. This approach is consistent with commitments made by the development and humanitarian sectors to leave no-one behind, and is consistent with the humanitarian principles of humanity and impartiality.

Many people with diverse SOGIESC experience violence, discrimination, and exclusion during their lives: from their families, local communities, and faith communities; in education, healthcare and workplaces; when accessing public services; from police and other officials; or when simply walking down the street. These realities often undermine the attempts by people with diverse SOGIESC to build resilient lives. In the context of humanitarian response, this pre-emergency marginalization creates specific protection needs and constrains access to services in disasters, conflict or complex emergencies. The violence, discrimination and exclusion experienced in everyday life often extends into relief and recovery phases of emergencies, with families, communities, and officials intentionally or unintentionally causing harm. As a result, some people with diverse SOGIESC may opt out of the humanitarian system in part or full, relying instead on informal community networks and friends and potentially putting themselves at greater risk.

However, the humanitarian and disaster risk reduction (DRR) systems have often failed to acknowledge pre-emergency marginalization and have neglected to address the needs, strengths or rights of people with diverse SOGIESC during and after emergencies. While there are examples of deliberate omission, in many cases, omission results from assumptions about gender, sexuality and bodies that inherently exclude people with diverse SOGIESC. While the terms heteronormativity, cisnormativity, gender binarism and endosexism may be unfamiliar, they sit alongside sexism, racism and other forms of norms-based violence, discrimination and exclusion that may be embedded in tools or ways of working. This exclusion extends to assessment tools that often fail to surface the experiences and needs of people with diverse SOGIESC, leading to program designs and evaluations that also leave them out. At other times, humanitarian and DRR organizations and workers may be aware of specific needs, but not have the training or experience or community relationships needed to take action; or, may fear causing harm, through exposing people with diverse SOGIESC to further community stigma or legal consequences.

Existing assessment tools, and methods for using those tools, fall short of what is needed to assess inclusion of people with diverse SOGIESC. For example, most marker tools include diversity of SOGIESC in passing - if at all - and do not provide a means of disaggregating diverse SOGIESC aspects of inclusion from other forms of inclusion. The only substantive exception is the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender with Age Marker (GAM) which provides options for specific coding of diverse SOGIESC inclusion, that can be used effectively if staff understand diverse SOGIESC inclusion. This tool fills this gap by providing a specific and comprehensive tool for assessing diverse SOGIESC inclusion that will enable humanitarian and DRR organizations to:

  • Better monitor and evaluate the inclusion of people with diverse SOGIESC in programs, contributing to more inclusive program designs.

  • Establish the extent to which diverse SOGIESC inclusion measures are contributing to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

Design decisions for this tool sought to minimize barriers to usage, and maximize consistency with existing tools. This tool closely mirrors the UN Women Rapid Assessment Tool: To Evaluate Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Results In Humanitarian Contexts, and the two tools could be used together. This tool could also be used in tandem with the IASC GAM, and tipsheets for using the GAM in a diverse SOGIESC inclusive way were developed alongside this tool.

Collaboration with people with diverse SOGIESC is built-in to the tool in several ways:

  • A Regional Advisory Group of diverse SOGIESC CSO representatives from Asia and the Pacific monitored the development of this tool, ensuring consistency with the demands for meaningful inclusion of people with diverse SOGIESC in the No Longer Left Behind call-for-action from the 2018 Pride in the Humanitarian System consultation.

  • The tool is also designed to be consistent with Accountability to Affected People commitments, such as those in the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability.

  • Use of the tool requires CSO collaboration, ideally with a specialist diverse SOGIESC CSO.

In some settings, there may not be an obvious diverse SOGIESC CSO, because:

  • Existing diverse SOGIESC organizations have not been identified or included in the humanitarian or DRR systems.

  • Legal or other barriers mean that no suitable organizations exist.

Where diverse SOGIESC CSOs exist in a response setting, but do not engage in humanitarian response, additional support may be required from humanitarian organizations. In some cases, it may be appropriate to work with other CSOs that have substantive engagement with people with diverse SOGIESC. Examples include:

  • Women’s rights organizations that engage with lesbian bisexual or queer (LBQ) women. These CSOs may also be valuable partners where diverse SOGIESC CSOs are HIV-focused, as their networks may be restricted to people assigned male at birth.

  • Organizations that engage with people with diverse SOGIESC through sexual and reproductive health and rights programs (although these programs may also be focused on people assigned male at birth).

The requirement for collaboration may seem to add complexity, but should not be a disincentive. Instead, it is an opportunity for humanitarian organizations to deepen CSO partnerships and work in ways that are consistent with Accountability to Affected People commitments, such as those in the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability.

Access the survey tool and form here.