3. Gender in Emergencies

“It is widely accepted that disasters, both natural and man-made, impact women, girls, men and boys differently, with the level of vulnerability and gender equality being key determinants of which groups are worse affected. […] in general women and girls are far more likely to die in a disaster at an earlier age.”

Crises have different impacts on women, girls, boys and men. People face different risks based on their age and sex, and they will often highlight different concerns and bring different perspectives, experiences, and solutions to the challenges faced. The need for assistance and protection will vary.

Our activities during a humanitarian response can increase and reinforce, or reduce, existing inequalities. Integrating gender into every stage of a response is therefore a core part of CARE achieving their humanitarian mandate.

For more information and statistics look at the Gender, Power, and Justice: Gender in Emergencies page.

‘Gender integration’ simply means taking into account the differences, experiences, and inequalities between men and women, boys and girls in everything we do. This supports more effective programming by delivering a response that adapts to the needs of the population, and that also contributes to greater social equality.

Integrating gender requires thinking about gender from the very start of an emergency response—and even before—as a part of preparedness. This involves a small number of simple steps that can help us to understand the population, and to respond accordingly.

Gender Analysis

Gender Analysis is the systematic attempt to identify key issues contributing to gender inequalities, many of which also contribute to poor programming outcomes. It asks:

1. How will gender relations affect the achievement of sustainable programme results?

2. How will the proposed results affect the relative status of men and women?

CARE has a number of tools and processes to help teams integrate gender effectively into their humanitarian work. These include:

  1. Rapid gender analysis
  2. Gender mainstreaming and gender specific programming
  3. Women’s participation and leadership
  4. Gender and MEAL

1. Rapid gender analysis: rapid gender analysis (RGA) provides information about the different needs, capacities, and coping strategies of women, men, boys and girls in a crisis situation. It does this in part by examining the relationships between women, men, boys and girls. An RGA is built up progressively, and provides an initial but incomplete analysis of gender relations in an emergency.

The five steps of an RGA are:

  1. Find existing gender information
  2. Collect new gender information
  3. Analyse the gender information
  4. Make practical recommendations
  5. Share and update the RGA report

TOOL: The CARE Rapid Gender Analysis Toolkit provides detailed guidance on the five simple steps to conduct a RGA. The CARE RGA links to more in-depth Gender and Power Analysis using the CARE Good Practice Framework.

2. Gender mainstreaming: integrating gender throughout all steps of the humanitarian cycle helps to ensure that adequate and efficient service and assistance is provided, with due attention to users’ safety, dignity and equal access. Tools and guidance are available to help guide this process:

Minimum commitments for Gender and Diversity: CARE has adopted and adapted the work of the Global WASH Cluster WASH Minimum Commitments for the Safety and Dignity of Affected People as the primary approach to mainstreaming gender and diversity into its core humanitarian sectors. Minimum Commitments are people-centred commitments that aim at improving the quality and efficiency of response programmes, and at ensuring that key issues such as gender, gender based violence, child protection, disability, and age are taken into consideration by all partners. It also helps to reinforce the accountability of WASH interventions to the affected population.

This work is already available for WASH, and is under development for Food Security and Livelihoods, and Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Gender action plan: the gender action plan (GAP) helps to prepare and plan for a gender-sensitive response. The GAP sets out how to use the gender analysis to inform the design of a response, ensuring that different groups are getting the support they need. Preparing a GAP is a mandatory requirement in emergency preparedness, response strategy, and funding processes. Some donors also require a GAP.

TOOL: The CARE GAP guidance note gives more details on how to use the GAP at various points, including during the EPP, at the beginning of a response, and during a response review.

Mainstreaming gender is also inclusive of undertaking gender specific programming that aims to address the specific and particular disadvantages in humanitarian situations that arise out of historical discrimination.

Standalone programming to respond to and address Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Emergencies (GBViE) is a key example of gender specific programming. GBV is deeply rooted in, and perpetuated by, gender inequality. In an emergency GBV is exacerbated, and vulnerabilities and risk increase. Preventing and responding to GBViE is a life-saving activity that requires a prioritised response which can include mainstreaming addressing GBV throughout all humanitarian response sectors, and often specific programming dedicated to GBV response and mitigation.

3.Women’s participation and leadership: gender equality in humanitarian programming is most effectively achieved if women and girls actively participate, and are empowered to decide how to participate, in the decisions being made on how to meet their needs.

In light of this, ensure that women’s participation in decision-making is integrated throughout the entire programme, and into all project process. This includes the provision of:

  • Transparent information on the response processes and decisions made
  • Meaningful opportunities to be involved in decision-making at various stages through the response
  • Safe and reliable mechanisms for receiving, managing, and responding to all forms of feedback
  • Opportunities to promote women’s and girl’s leadership roles

Pay particular attention to ensuring that participation is equally and meaningfully accessible to those from different genders and age groups, and to those with disabilities.

Further supporting information can be sought through the CARE Governance wiki, and the Core Humanitarian Standard Guidance Note.

4. Gender and monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) systems: incorporating gender into MEAL provides the opportunity to understand, learn from, and respond to the changing gendered realities and experiences in the response. Some major elements to consider include:

Analyse sex- and age-disaggregated data: in order to understand the different needs of women, men, boys and girls, collect, monitor and use sex-and-age-disaggregated (SADD) data, as well as data on other relevant factors such as ethnicity, religion and disability.

Identify, monitor, and respond to gendered issues: it is important to check in on how the situation is changing for different sex and age groups, not just for our target groups. Integrating gender into MEAL requires building gender reflection into monitoring, and includes regular checks to understand and respond to issues such as: changing protection risks and needs, unintended consequences, and changing gender roles and relations.

Use the CARE Gender Marker: the CARE Gender Marker is a self-assessment tool that measures the integration of gender into programming along a scale of 0–4, placing work along the CARE Gender Continuum. Using this tool can support learning and reflection, and help to increase the effectiveness and gender equity of our work. This can be used at multiple stages throughout programming.

TOOL: The CARE Gender Marker and associated guidance provides detailed information on how to apply the tool.

Considering gender during emergency preparedness planning (EPP) helps to lay a strong foundation for delivering a gender sensitive response.

Very simple steps can be taken to ensure that gender is integrated into your EPP process. This includes:

  • Conduct a gender equality and diversity in emergencies training session with all staff
  • Integrate gender into the scenarios
  • Prepare a Gender Action Plan and include in the EPP Report as an annex
  • Prepare a country-specific Gender in Brief and include in the EPP Report as an annex. This document highlights the underlying inequalities and gender and generational related risks, providing a broad overview of demographic, cultural, political, social and economic differences between women and men, as well as insights into the nature of gender relations. Collecting this data, inclusive of sex- and age-disaggregated pre-crisis data, helps us to form a baseline gender analysis to inform any future emergency response
  • Ensure a gender balanced response team
  • Identify women’s civil society organisations to engage with

The CARE Gender and EPP guidance document provides detailed information on how to do this.

See section 37 of this toolkit for more detailed guidance on emergency preparedness.

Equipping humanitarian responses with the right skills, tools, and capacities to integrate gender effectively requires adequate and appropriate internal financial and human resources. Key considerations in this domain include:

  • Ensure a gender balanced team at all levels
  • Budget for appropriate and adequate resources to fund the gender mainstreaming and gender specific work required for the response, which may include funding the support of specific gender expertise
  • Train all staff, including partners, on gender equality and diversity, and include specific mention of their gender responsibilities and objectives in their ToR
  • Include an understanding of, and commitment to, gender equality in partner assessments

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  • Target actions based on the gender analysis. Design services to meet the different needs of women, men, boys and girls.
  • Make sure that women, men, boys and girls have equal access to services.
  • Make sure that women, men, boys and girls can participate equally in response activities.
  • Train women and men equally.
  • Use programmes to help prevent SGBV.
  • When you collect, analyse and report on information, break down the data by sex and age.
  • Coordinate actions with all partners.
  • If you can’t get quantitative information in the first hours of a response, record the sex and age of key informants who are providing you with information on the situation, and aim for a broad spread of informants. Other sources could include available programming information, census data, health statistics and household survey data. The result would be a broad snapshot of differences.

Critical indicators Checklist

  • CARE teams are gender balanced and each emergency team has someone focusing on gender.
  • You analyse how the crisis affects women, men, boys and girls differently.
  • You collect data from women, men, boys and girls.
  • The data from women is collected by women.
  • You adapt activities to meet everyone’s specific needs.
  • The data you use to measure effectiveness is broken down by sex and age.
  • You monitor intended and unintended effects of the response on women and men.
  • Women and men participate equally in decision-making.
  • You have a responsive, safe, and equally accessible accountability mechanism in place.
  • Proposals and reports include specific gender plans, goals, indicators and progress.
  • You consider women’s and men’s different needs and capacities in project plans and resources.
  • Staff and partners are accountable to gender equality goals.
  • You work to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse and provide medical, legal and economic support to survivors.
  • You have an SGBV referrals system that integrates SGBV issues into the entire response.



  • Forget that women, men, boys and girls are all at risk of rape and SEA. Men and boys are often victims of SGBV in conflicts.
  • Favour men in livelihood programmes. This could further impoverish women.
  • Fail to consider gender in all sectors of the response—e.g. poor camp design can increase the risks of SGBV, and distribution programmes can create opportunities for SEA.
  • Forget that at the start of your emergency response, the gender analysis will not be perfect, so you may need to adapt your strategy and project design as your analysis improves.

Gender in Emergencies Wiki Page

Empowering women and girls affected by crisis

The Empowering women and girls affected by crisis report explains the importance of gender in emergencies, CARE’s approach, and a check into CARE’s progress towards achieving gender equality in humanitarian programming.