Handbook for Coordinating Gender-based Violence Interventions in Emergencies 2019

Manual and Guideline
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About this handbook


This handbook is a quick-reference tool that provides practical, field-level guidance to establish and maintain a GBV sub-cluster in a humanitarian emergency. It provides the foundations for coordination. More in-depth information can be pursued through resources referenced in this handbook. The GBV AoR website ( maintains a repository of tools, training materials and resources that complement this handbook. As a second edition, this handbook provides updates to practitioners on humanitarian reforms, lessons learned, promising practices and resources that have emerged since its first publication in 2010.


This handbook is targeted towards individuals and agencies involved in GBV sub-clusters in humanitarian emergencies at the field level.

Throughout the handbook the term “GBV sub-cluster” is used to incorporate the different names used in various humanitarian contexts with clusters or cluster-like structures, including GBV subcluster, sector or sub-sector or GBV in Emergencies working groups.

This handbook is designed primarily for GBV coordinators, which may include UN, international or local NGO or national government coordinators at the national and sub-national levels. It will also be a useful tool for sub-cluster members, so that everyone participating can benefit from global guidance to plan and implement their work and hold coordination leadership accountable. Many sections, like “GBV Concepts for Coordination” (Chapter 1) can facilitate discussions with broader audiences, underscoring the responsibility for addressing GBV that lies with the entire humanitarian community. The handbook encourages GBV coordinators to seek ways to include those not currently involved in coordination at the local level by featuring examples of participation from different field contexts, recommending tools, providing resources and suggesting ways of working that are accessible.

The focus of this handbook is on GBV coordination. GBV programming concepts are referenced, but it is for coordinators to promote and ensure best practices and standards across an integrated humanitarian response. Other resources should be used to guide GBV programme design and evaluation. This handbook emphasizes that GBV coordination requires dedicated resources and capacities that are related to, but distinct from, GBV programming.

When to use the handbook

This handbook addresses coordination of GBV interventions in multiple types and phases of emergencies. It applies in natural disasters and armed conflict, as well as complex emergencies where these factors combine in a multi-faceted humanitarian emergency.

The handbook is most helpful when initiating coordination from the onset of an emergency. However, since GBV must be addressed in all phases of crisis, and these phases often overlap, it should also be used to improve preparedness before crisis strikes, and to identify activities during the stabilization and recovery phases. It is applicable in acute, protracted or recurrent crises.

How to use the handbook

This handbook is organized in three parts, which are integrated into a single electronic document. It can be printed as a whole or in parts that can be hand-carried to a location where Internet is inaccessible. In electronic versions, readers can jump directly to different parts of the handbook by clicking on a title of a section in the Table of Contents or in the Bookmark Palette in Adobe Acrobat.

The Bookmark Palette in Adobe Acrobat can be displayed by choosing Window, Bookmarks or by clicking the Show/Hide Navigation Pane button and clicking the Bookmarks tab.

PART ONE is an overview of guiding frameworks and context.

Chapter 1 delineates the conceptual framework for GBV coordination in emergencies, with core definitions, principles, and approaches to address GBV that all actors involved in coordination must adopt and share. It provides the basis for promoting ethical and effective GBV interventions across the humanitarian response.

Chapter 2 describes the policy and structural framework for humanitarian coordination. It summarizes humanitarian reforms and explains how GBV coordination fits within the IASC Protection Policy framework and the cluster approach. It outlines the relationship with other clusters, the Protection Cluster, and global initiatives, including the Call to Action. It also provides tips to implement inclusion and localization within these frameworks.

PART TWO introduces the core functions of a GBV sub-cluster.

Chapter 3 introduces the functions required for coordination: 1) supporting service delivery; 2) informing strategic decision making; 3) planning and implementing cluster strategies; 4) ensuring monitoring and evaluation; 5) building national capacity in preparedness and contingency planning; and 6) supporting advocacy. Deliverables for these functions are described, including service mapping, needs assessment, referral systems and strategies for Humanitarian Response Plans and resource mobilization. The key role information management plays in these functions is highlighted throughout the chapter.

Chapter 4 explains how to establish and sustain a sub-cluster to fulfil these functions. It provides guidance on: launching a group, recruiting a diverse and localized membership, developing terms of reference (ToR), establishing information management systems, creating sub-groups and transition planning.

PART THREE provides resources to enhance coordination skills.

Chapter 5 offers guidance to leverage inter-personal and managerial skills for coordination. It discusses leadership, concensus building, negotiation, conflict resolution and staff and self-care, because coordination requires “soft skills” as well as technical knowledge.

Chapter 6 contains a list of additional resources for reference organized by priority and topic.

The Annexes contain resources and sample documents.

The Index identifies topics by page numbers for quick reference.

This handbook is a starting point for strategic coordination at the country level. It is a companion to the Inter-Agency Minimum Standards for Prevention and Response to GBV in Emergencies (GBV AoR, forthcoming 2019/2020) and the Core Competencies for GBV Program Managers and Coordinators in Humanitarian Settings (GBV 2014). These resources should be used together to gain in-depth understanding of the scope, quality and proficiencies required for coordination.