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Donor Spending on Gender in Emergencies 2013

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Report reveals pitiful spending on projects addressing gender inequality, as London meeting to counter violence against women in crisis begins

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 17:14

As officials gather in London today (13 November) for a conference on violence against women and girls in emergencies, a CARE International UK special report has revealed the tiny proportion of international aid that is directed towards projects that target gender violence and sexual exploitation of women in humanitarian crises. The report also shows the inadequacies of global efforts to track how effectively humanitarian projects address gender.

In 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon set a target that the primary purpose of 15% of all projects established post-conflict should address women’s specific needs, advance gender equality or empower women.[i]

The UN has established a system – the ‘Gender Marker’– to track the extent to which projects set up in times of crisis address these issues.

However, CARE’s research found that, of projects submitted through the ‘Gender Marker’, the UK spent only 0.5% of its emergency aid[ii] on targeted interventions to promote gender equality, such as projects focused on violence against women. By comparison, Japan spent 4% and the US 3%.

Shockingly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), sometimes labelled the ‘rape capital’ of the world, more than half (54%) of all projects tracked through the UN system are categorised as ‘gender blind’ – that is, they have taken no visible steps to address gender issues. In Afghanistan, 22% of such projects were gender blind. In Zimbabwe, only 9% of projects addressed gender in their design.

Some countries are doing far better. The analysis found that 92% of projects in the Philippines either addressed gender in their design or were directly concerned with gender inequality. Kuwait had no gender blind projects.

The report comes as the UK hosts an influential summit today (Wednesday 13 November) at Lancaster House in London, seeking international action on the issue. The ‘High Level Event on Protecting Girls and Women in Emergencies’ has been organised by the Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening.

Ministers are attending from Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Jordan and the DRC as well as representatives of CARE International, other NGOs and the United Nations.

Barbara Jackson, Humanitarian Director for CARE International, said Ms Greening’s actions in calling and hosting the event should be welcomed and applauded, particularly for widening the discussion beyond rape as a tactic of war, to addressing the wider spectrum of violence against women and girls. This includes much-neglected and sensitive issues such as increases in child marriage, transactional sex and other coping strategies in emergencies.

But she said that CARE’s analysis of the UN data suggested that some donors were performing better than others in terms of funding projects that assist and protect women and girls, although the figures used in the analysis should be viewed with caution.

She said: “For too long, tackling violence against women and girls in emergencies has been put in the ‘too difficult box’. Today’s event has laid down the challenge to us all. Understanding how gender shapes the impact of disasters differently for women and men, boys and girls, needs to be taken seriously.

“Gender must be factored into how we design and implement life-saving projects when disasters strike.

“We know the figures included in the Gender Marker analysis do not fully capture the picture of what aid agencies are supporting on the ground, but this is precisely the point,” she said. “All of us – donors, UN and NGOs on the ground – need to get much better at holding ourselves to account for what we are doing.

“We need to become much more rigorous about ensuring that programmes adequately address gender concerns, as well as in following up through project monitoring and evaluation.” In highlighting the use of the Gender Marker, CARE seeks to underline the importance of a truly gender-based approach to aid in crises, and not just focusing on violence against women and girls.

This involves looking at how programmes address men and boy’s attitudes and needs too, as only then can projects more effectively tackle violence against the opposite sex.

“Today’s high level event is a start, but the real test will be to see in one year from now if and how projects change on the ground in DRC, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and other crises around the globe,” Ms Jackson said.


Notes to Editors

  • CARE fights poverty and injustice in 84 countries around the world to help the world’s poorest people find routes out of poverty. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives in the aftermath.

  • The figures for the report were sourced from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Financial Tracking System database on November 7 2013. They refer to funding commitments and contributions from the 10 biggest donors for the 16 Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) countries 2013 and the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) 2013 appeals. For the full report, go to

  • The IASC Gender Marker is a tool that codes, on a 0‐2 scale, whether or not a humanitarian project is designed well enough to ensure that women/girls and men/boys will benefit equally from it or that it will advance gender equality in another way.[iii] Category 2a is for projects that seek to ‘mainstream’ gender considerations in their design (such as through use of sex-disaggregated data in needs assessments). Category 2b is for projects that are a targeted intervention addressing gender dynamics (such as projects in response to sexual violence). Category 1 is for projects including basic elements that have the potential to address gender concerns. Category 0 is for projects that have taken no visible steps to address these issues and are considered ‘gender blind’.