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.” – ‘Empowering women and girls affected by crisis’ report.

Crises have different impacts on women, girls, boys and men. People face different risks based on their age, sex and gender. CARE also recognises that gender intersects with other forms of diversity which can exacerbate unequal power relations e.g. characteristics such as race, caste, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability among others, which can effect how people prepare for, respond to, recover from and are impacted by crisis. Recognising these differences that exist within and between communities, will often highlight unique concerns and bring different perspectives, experiences, and solutions, to the challenges faced by communities. Based on this, the need for assistance and protection will vary.

Our activities and approach 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 on Gender in Emergencies, visit the Gender in Practice webpage.

“…empowering women and girls is a critical pathway to reduce vulnerability and poverty for the whole community, as well as being essential for achieving gender equality.” CARE International Humanitarian and Emergency Strategy 2013-2020 (p.4).

Gender equality and women’s voice is central to CARE’s approach in emergencies. As a rights based organisation, CARE seeks to promote equal realization of dignity and human rights, and the elimination of poverty and injustice for all genders and ages.

Essential to achieving this, is a focus on women and girls’ empowerment, as well as engagement of men and boys.

Humanitarian crises offer a ‘window of opportunity’ to transform unequal gender relations and shift harmful gender norms. Knowing this, CARE works along a continuum to ensure that, at the very least, emergency responses are gender sensitive, but strive to be, gender transformative.

For some reflections on CARE’s approach, as well as examples of CARE’s Gender in Emergencies work and good practices, visit this video link. 

Rapid Gender Analysis

A Rapid Gender Analysis primarily seeks to understand these three questions:

1.    What are gendered-related rights denials in a given context?

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

3.    How will proposed results affect the relative status of men and women? Will it exacerbate or reduce inequalities?

CARE’s approach to gender in emergencies focuses on mainstreamed, integrated and targeted actions and approaches. The approach focuses on 4 key areas (see graphic). These are outlined in CARE’s Gender in Emergencies Guidance note and are summarized below. 

A. Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA): An RGA provides information about the different needs, capacities, and coping strategies of women, girls, boys and men in a crisis situation. It does this, in part, by examining the roles and relationships between women, girls, boys and men. 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

The CARE Rapid Gender Analysis Toolkit provides detailed guidance on the five steps to conduct an RGA. A complementary set of videos can be found via this link.

The CARE RGA links to more in-depth Gender and Power Analysis using the CARE Good Practice Framework.

B. Minimum commitments for technical sectors: Ensuring gender is mainstreamed and integrated throughout all steps of the humanitarian programme cycle helps to ensure that adequate and efficient services and assistance is provided, with attention to users’ safety, dignity and equal access. Minimum Commitments are people-centered commitments that aim at improving the quality and efficiency of response programmes, and ensuring that key issues such as gender, gender-based violence, child protection, disability and age are taken into consideration by all partners. They also help to reinforce the accountability of sectoral interventions to the affected population. CARE has developed a set of minimum commitments for its core sectors: WASH, Shelter, Food Security and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights.

Links to the minimum commitments and additional guidance can be found below:

The following videos highlight the importance of GiE minimum commitments for sectoral programming, as well as provide an overview of minimum commitments for WASH in emergencies.

Integration of specific indicators can be used to support the measurement and progress of gender in emergencies response and ensure accountability in programming. The following guidance has been developed and is currently in its second pilot phase: Gender equality and women’s voice supplementary indicators. 

C. Women Lead in Emergencies: Gender equality in humanitarian programming is most effectively achieved if women and girls actively participate, and are empowered to choose how to participate, in decisions on how to meet their needs.

A focus on women’s equal voice, leadership and participation aims to transform the root causes of poverty and injustice, to save lives and increase gender equality. Particular efforts are made to reach marginalized women and girls, including women with disabilities, indigenous women, elderly women, and women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, engaging them as active partners, and building on their needs and capacities.

CARE has piloted five steps for their Women Lead in Emergencies approach, in Tonga, Uganda and Niger. The five steps include:

The aim of Women Lead in Emergencies is to ensure, through the five step process, that women’s voice and participation in decision-making is integrated throughout an entire emergency response programme. It prioritises working with existing groups and putting women at the center of decision making, response and recovery processes.

For more information on Women Lead in Emergencies Pilot in Tonga, see the report here

D. Eliminating Gender-based Violence in Emergencies (GBViE)

CARE defines GBV as:
a harmful act or threat based on a person’s sex or gender identity. It includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse, coercion, denial of liberty and economic deprivation, whether occurring in public or private spheres. GBV is rooted in unjust power relations, structures and social/cultural norms.

In an emergency GBV is exacerbated, and vulnerabilities and risk increase. Preventing and responding to GBV in emergencies (GBViE) is a life-saving activity that requires a prioritised response and is mandatory in CARE programming.

CARE’s GBViE Guidance Note outlines CARE’s commitments through integrated and stand-alone programming approaches. For more information, please consult the Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies page.

CARE’s work to address GBViE is informed by a Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) with a focus on GBV.

For Quick Tips on…

The CARE Gender Marker, click on the following video link for five videos introducing the Gender Marker:

Incorporating gender into MEAL provides the opportunity to understand, learn from, and respond to the changing gendered realities and experiences throughout a response. It involves ensuring that MEAL systems and activities are participatory, are not gender-neutral and that they are designed to allow teams understand and challenge unequal power relations that may exist. Crucially, MEAL should seek to contribute to social change by empowering marginalized groups to be heard and influence the decision-making that affects them.[1]

The following tools and processes should be considered:

CARE’s global indicators #1 to #9  provide guidance about monitoring of changes related to Gender Equality. They can be found here.

Analyse sex- and age-disaggregated data: in order to understand the different needs of women, girls, boys and men, it is necessary to collect, monitor, analyse and use sex-and-age-disaggregated (SADD) data, as well as data on other relevant factors based on the context, such as ethnicity, caste, religion and disability. When collecting data on disability The Washington Group Short Set of Questions on Disability can be used. These questions are designed to identify persons who have difficulty performing basic universal activities (walking, seeing, hearing, cognition, self-care and communication) with the questions designed for use in humanitarian response settings where time and resources are limited.

Identify, monitor, and respond to gendered issues: Integrating gender into MEAL requires building gender reflection into monitoring. Initially this involves analysing and understanding how sex, age and other data on diversity, needs to influence programming, and how current programming will or is having an impact on different groups. Following this, it is necessary to review how the situation is changing for different sex, age and diversity groups and ensure we respond to issues such as: changing protection risks and needs, unintended consequences, and changing gender roles and relations.

The Gender Equality Women’s Voice (GEWV) indicators were developed with the aim of allowing CARE to capture, measure, and track the changes occurring as a result of dedicated gender approaches across development and humanitarian programming. The resulting data should enable CARE to systematically build a picture of the changes in agency, structures, and relations taking place in the communities in which we work.

The CARE Gender Marker is one of the key tools that supports the implementation of CARE’s Gender Equality and Women’s Voice Approach. CARE’s Gender Marker is a self-assessment program quality and learning tool, that allows us to monitor and learn to what extent gender equality is integrated into humanitarian projects along the CARE Gender Continuum, on a five-point scale, from harmful to transformative.

The Gender Marker is designed for non-gender specialists and can be used at multiple stages throughout programming, enabling CARE to track, improve on, and support more effective, gender integrated programming, allowing teams to continuously improve programming to better meet the needs of women, girls, boys and men.

The CARE Gender Marker guidance note and webpage includes comprehensive guidance on how to apply the tool as well as key learnings.

Accountability to affected populations

At the heart of CARE’s efforts to impact poverty and social justice, is its engagement with marginalised communities, and vulnerable adults and children. An essential component of CARE’s organisational commitment to upholding the dignity and human rights of the communities it works with, is CARE’s approach to the Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA). CARE’s International Policy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Child Protection (2018) outlines the organisation’s zero tolerance toward sexual exploitation and abuse and child abuse. Further guidance on CARE’s approach to PSEA is outlined in Section 33 of the emergency toolkit. A training package is also available for all staff.

Further external references  can be found in

CARE’s Strategic Impact Inquiry (SII)

CARE’s SII is rights-based action research that uses processes of critical inquiry to build new knowledge and accountabilities among staff, partners, allies and the communities affected by CARE’s work. It aims to understand the impact our humanitarian response work is having on the short- and long-term dynamics of gender inequality in the communities we serve. Further guidance and examples of the SII can be found here.

[1] Applying Feminist Principles to MEAL at CARE Canada Guidance Note

Considering gender during Emergency Preparedness Planning (EPP) helps to lay a strong foundation for delivering a gender sensitive response. Emergency Preparedness Planning must include gender equality and women’s empowerment. The following steps can help ensure gender is integrated across all parts of the EPP process.

  1. Review the Gender in Emergency Preparedness Planning guidance note.
  2. Refer to the Minimum Preparedness Action (MPAs) (Annex 7) which require that:
  • The ERT is trained on gender issues (minimum requirement: IASC e-learning course).
  • Ensure CARE’s participation in inter-agency preparedness/coordination, specifically in the HCT, the Protection cluster and GBV sub-cluster.
  • Ensure the Gender Brief is prepared / updated. Examples of gender in briefs can be found here.
  • A Gender in Emergencies (GiE) focal point is identified and has participated in relevant training, including have one conversation with CI Gender in Emergency Advisor.
  • Ensure Gender Action Plan is prepared and included with EPP workbook
  1. Conduct a gender equality and diversity in emergencies training session with all staff.
  2. Ensure a gender-balanced response team!
  3. Identify women’s civil society organisations to engage with.
  4. Use the Gender in Crisis guidance to analyse the impact of previous crises on gender relations to help prepare for future crisis.
  5. Integrate gender equality into the seven steps of the EPP process.

Section 37 of CARE’s emergency toolkit provides more detailed guidance on emergency preparedness.

For Quick Tips on...

GiE budgeting and proposal writing, click on the following video link:

CARE’s International Gender Policy outlines explicit commitments to support gender equality and this link provides further information to CARE’s organisational focus, commitments and approach to gender equity, equality and diversity in the workplace.

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 include:

  • Ensure a gender-balanced team at all levels. This allows teams to be better able to work with, communicate and engage with people of all genders and ages in the population. Based on the context, other diversity factors should be considered to ensure a team that is representative of the population. CARE’s guidance note on Recruiting Gender Balanced Teams, provides six simple steps for recruiting a balanced team, with a focus on under-represented groups, particularly women.
  • Budget for appropriate and adequate resources to fund gender mainstreaming work and targeted responses such as Women Lead in Emergencies and a Life Free from Violence. Crucial, is the inclusion of Gender in Emergencies technical support. Until longer-term support is secured, deploy Gender in Emergencies technical specialists to work with the emergency response teams. Key resources include CARE’s guidance note on Gender in Emergencies Budgeting (coming soon) and the guidance note on Integrating Gender Equality into Project Design. A sample budget has also been developed to support gender in emergency response work (coming soon).
  • Train and provide adequate briefings to all staff, including partners and volunteers, on gender equality and diversity, and include specific mention of their gender responsibilities and objectives in their ToR. Key training and orientation includes:
  • Gender-sensitive partnerships: Ensure an understanding of, and commitment to, gender equality and gender-sensitivity in the selection of partners. For more information on partner assessments, see CARE’s guidance note on Gender-sensitive Partnerships.

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  • Use a gender analysis to inform understanding of the context and the capacities, strengths, needs and concerns of the women, girls, boys and men in the population.
  • Ensure that the collection, analysis and reporting of data and information is broken down by sex and age.
  • Collect data from women, girls, boys and men.
  • Ensure that the data from women is collected by women.
  • Analyse how the crisis affects women, girls, boys and men differently.
  • If you cannot 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 demographic of informants. Other sources could include available programming information, census data, health statistics and household survey data.
  • Ensure Sectoral Minimum Commitments are integrated within all programming.
  • Develop targeted actions based on the outcomes of the rapid gender analysis to design or adapt services to meet the different needs of women, girls, boys and men.
  • Make sure that women, girls, boys and men have equal access to programmes and services.
  • Make sure that women, girls, boys and men participate equally in assessments, decision making and response activities.
  • Ensure active efforts are undertaken to increase women’s voice, participation and leadership across the sectors and throughout the response.
  • Train women and men equally. Provide women and men equal benefits or pay for equal work. Understand the gender dynamics to avoid increasing the burden of work for women and girls.
  • Ensure GBV mitigation measures are included within all sectoral programmes.
  • Develop targeted GBV prevention, mitigation and response initiatives based on the context and in line with CARE’s GBV Framework.
  • Coordinate actions with all partners in the response.
  • Ensure CARE teams are gender balanced and where relevant to the context are representative of the diversity within the population, e.g. based on religion, ethnicity, cast etc.
  • Ensure each emergency sector team has appointed someone to focus on gender, even when there is someone in a specific Gender in Emergencies role.
  • Monitor intended and unintended effects of the response on women, girls, boys and men.
  • Ensure there is a responsive, safe, and equally accessible accountability mechanism in place, taking into account how people prefer to engage, receive, access and provide information based on gender, age, disability, literacy levels and other diversity factors.
  • Ensure proposals, project plans and reports include specific gender plans, goals, indicators and progress, and are continuously monitored against CARE’s Gender Marker.
  • Actively ensure staff and partners are accountable to gender equality goals, with specific responsibilities being included in TORs.
  • Ensure all staff, partners and volunteers are trained and aware of their individual and collective responsibilities to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.
  • Staff, partners and volunteers are aware of the GBV referrals system and have the skills to respond to a disclosure of GBV in a safe and confidential manner, in line with the survivor centered approach by ensuring information on available medical, legal, psychosocial and protection support is made accessible to survivors.


  • Forget that women, girls, boys and men are all at risk of GBV and sexual exploitation and abuse. While women and girls are disproportionately impacted by disasters and by GBV, men and boys can also be survivors/victims.
  • Favour men in livelihood programmes. This could further impoverish women. Do not provide unequal pay or working conditions based on gender.
  • Fail to consider gender in all sectors of the response. Doing so can have unintended negative consequences for the population, particularly at-risk groups and can increase risks for GBV e.g. poor camp design can increase the risks of GBV, especially for individuals and groups who were not consulted as part of the design process.
  • 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. It is important to conduct multiple gender analysis at different stages of the response.
  • Forget that PSEA is everyone’s responsibility including all staff, partners and volunteers.

For some quick tips and reflections from a deployable GiE Specialist visit this video link

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.