World

Gender-based violence (GBV) coordination in humanitarian and public health emergencies: a scoping review

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Philomena Raftery, Natasha Howard, Jennifer Palmer & Mazeda Hossain

Abstract

Background

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global health, human rights, and protection issue, which can increase during emergencies. GBV coordination is an essential component of every humanitarian response, ensuring that, from the earliest phases of a crisis, accessible and safe services are available and prevention and mitigation mechanisms are implemented to reduce GBV. We sought to address the limited evidence on GBV coordination, by reviewing literature on GBV coordination in emergencies, identifying facilitators and barriers influencing effectiveness.

Methods

We conducted a scoping review on GBV coordination in emergencies from 1990 to 2020. Studies explicitly discussing GBV coordination in humanitarian, natural disaster and public health emergencies, in low or middle-income countries, were included. Using thematic analysis, we developed a six-topic framework to synthesise evidence on effective GBV coordination and present recommendations for strengthening GBV coordination in emergencies.

Findings

We included 28 of 964 sources identified, covering 30 different emergency settings across 22 countries. Sources spanned emergency settings, with minimal evidence in public health emergencies and none focussed solely on GBV coordination. Several sources suggested that timely establishment of GBV coordination mechanisms, led by dedicated, experienced coordinators, increased funding and strengthened service provision. GBV risk mitigation was compromised by weak commitment across sectors, poor accountability systems, and limited engagement of affected women. Inclusive GBV coordination, involving national and local actors is vital but engagement efforts have been inadequate and localisation funding targets not yet achieved. Implementation of the GBV Information Management System has reinforced coordination, funding allocation and service provision. While specialist GBV services remain insufficient, emergencies can present opportunities for expansion. Sustainability and long-term impact are compromised by over-reliance on international leadership and funding, weak commitment by governments, and limited attention to GBV prevention.

Conclusion

Despite enhanced global commitments to addressing GBV in recent years, it remains consistently under-prioritised and under-resourced. Recommendations to strengthen GBV coordination in emergencies include: funding dedicated GBV coordination positions across all types of emergencies, building the global GBV coordination workforce, expanding inclusion of national actors and investing in GBV risk mitigation and prevention through multiyear funding. The evidence-based framework for effective GBV coordination presented here, can guide further research in diverse emergencies.