Gender in Emergencies

Humanitarian emergencies have different impacts on men, women, girls, boys and persons of all genders. People have different risks in emergencies, due to their sex and gender. Emergencies have disproportionate impacts on women and girls.

Other forms of diversity such as race, caste, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability also impact people’s experiences in emergencies. The interaction of a person’s sex, gender and diversity can affect how people prepare for, respond to and recover from crisis. Understanding these differences are important, to learn how they shape people’s unique concerns, needs, risks and priorities. This can lead to more inclusive and effective emergency responses. It is important to listen to the experiences of those most affected to prioritise local solutions and perspectives.

Gender inequality is a key barrier to equitable access to humanitarian assistance and the protection of human rights. Activities and approaches implemented during an emergency response are not neutral. They can either increase and reinforce existing inequalities, or challenge them.

Integrating gender into every stage of an emergency response is crucial for CARE to achieve its humanitarian mandate. It is also important in working towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

For CARE staff, more information about CARE’s Gender in Emergency approach can be found on CARE’s GiE Sharepoint page.

Gender equality is central to CARE’s Vision 2030. It is at the heart of CARE as an organization and in programming. CARE’s Gender in Emergencies (GiE) approach is the foundation to it’s humanitarian work. CARE is a rights-based organization, committed to eliminating poverty and injustice. CARE aims to promote the dignity and human rights of persons of all genders and all diversity groups.

CARE’s emergency work uses CARE’s Gender Equality Framework.

Gender and age considerations across all diversity groups can compound vulnerabilities. Thus, the unique conditions of each emergency requires context specific analysis and approaches. CARE has a commitment to fighting injustice. This means a focus on:

  • Ensuring gender equality is central to all programs
  • Uplifting and advancing the needs and voices of women and girls
  • Engaging with the experiences and challenges of men and boys, who also suffer from gender inequality

Humanitarian emergencies offer a ‘window of opportunity’ to transform unequal gender relations and shift harmful gender norms.

CARE works along a continuum to ensure that emergency responses are at least gender sensitive. More information about CARE’s continuum can be found in Section 4. Humanitarian responses also aim to be conflict-sensitive, intersectional, inclusive, locally-led, locally-tailored, and globally-connected.

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

CARE’s gender in emergencies approach focuses on mainstreamed, integrated and targeted actions and initiatives. The approach has four key areas. These are also outlined in CARE’s Gender in Emergencies Guidance note.

Rapid Gender Analysis

Rapid Gender Analysis provides timely and critical information in times of crisis. RGA gathers information about different needs, risks, capacities, priorities, and coping strategies of people affected. RGA prioritizes hearing from people of different age, sex and diversity groups.

A Rapid Gender Analysis seeks to understand these three questions:

  • What gendered-related rights denials exist in a given context?
  • How gender relations will affect the achievement of sustainable results?
  • How proposed results affect the relative status of men and women? Will it exacerbate or reduce inequalities?

RGA looks at the roles and relationships between women, girls, boys and men. It ensures a focus on key areas of intersectionality that exist in the specific context. An RGA is a “live document” built in a progressive way. It provides an initial, but incomplete analysis of gender relations in an emergency. RGAs embrace imperfection. A level of imperfection is required to have data and information available timely, to inform humanitarian decision-making. RGA is then updated, as more information becomes available.

The steps of an RGA are:

  • Step 0: Engage with partners (Please note that this step is only applicable for Interagency RGAs)
  • Step 1: Find existing gender information
  • Step 2: Collect new gender information
  • Step 3: Analyse the gender information
  • Step 4: Write and make practical recommendations
  • Step 5: Share and update the RGA report
  • Step 6: Track outcomes and learn from the RGA recommendations

Links to additional resources additional guidance can be found below:

Minimum Commitments for technical sectors

CARE has Minimum Commitments to ensure it’s staff and partners put in place programming and approaches that mainstream and integrate gender. Key sectors include Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH), Shelter, Food Security and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

Gender mainstreaming and integration helps ensure the provision of equitable services and assistance. This should take place at all stages of the humanitarian programme cycle. Attention to users’ safety, dignity and access is important. Minimum Commitments are people-centered commitments. These aim to improve the quality of response programmes. They take into consideration issues such as gender, gender-based violence, child protection, disability and age. These commitments support and reinforce CARE and partners’ accountability to the affected population.

CARE has developed a set of Minimum Commitments for its core sectors: WASH, Shelter, Food Security and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Links to additional resources additional guidance can be found below:

Women Lead in Emergencies

CARE’s Women Lead in Emergencies model aims to address barriers to women’s participation in emergencies.
The model works best as part of multi-sectoral humanitarian programmes. The model is flexible and can be adapted for any type of emergency across different contexts.
We can only achieve gender equality when women and girls have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in decisions that affect their own lives. A focus on women’s equal voice, leadership and participation is key to address root causes of poverty and injustice. This focus aims to save lives and increase gender equality. The model makes particular efforts to reach marginalized women and girls. It does this by engaging them as active partners and building on their strengths and capacities. This includes working with women with disabilities, indigenous women, elderly women, and women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.
The model has 5 steps which are outlined in the image below:


Links to additional resources additional guidance can be found below:

Gender-based Violence in Emergencies (GBViE)

CARE’s programmatic approach to address GBV in Emergencies focuses on GBV prevention, risk mitigation and response.

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.

Gender-based Violence (GBV) takes many forms in times of crisis, both in private and public life. Emergencies can increase gender inequality and exacerbate GBV risks. This can be due to the chaos and tensions within households, communities and society during times of crisis.

Evidence and research show that GBV occurs in all emergencies worldwide. As a result, we do not wait to prove GBV is occurring before taking action.

CARE informs its work to address GBViE, in part, by using Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA).

CARE’s GBViE Guidance Note outlines CARE’s commitments to GBViE. This includes integrated and stand-alone programming approaches.

Links to all GBViE resources can be found below:

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.


  • 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

Women Lead in Emergencies

Rapid Gender Analysis on Power and Participation )RGA-P) Tools

  1. Key Informant Interview Tool (CSO/WRO/Leaders)
  2. Key Informant Interview Tool (CSO)
  3. Focus Group Discussion Tool (Women)
  4. Focus Group Discussion Tool (Men)
  5. Individual Story Tool
  6. Community Mapping Tool
  7. Gender and Protection Audit
  8. RGA-P Report Template

Women Lead in Emergencies Guidance Note Series 

  1. Guidance Note 1: Overview (English), عربي, Français, Español
  2. Guidance Note 2: Reflect (English), عربي, Français, Español
  3. Guidance Note 3: Analyse (English), عربي, Français, Español
  4. Guidance Note 4: Co-create (English), عربي,Français, Español
  5. Guidance Note 5: Act (English), عربي, Français, Español
  6. Guidance Note 6: Learn (English), عربي, Français, Español
  7. Guidance Note 7: COVID (English), عربي, Français, Español

For CARE staff, additional resources for Women Lead in Emergencies can be found on the CARE Sharepoint page

For persons external to CARE, additional resources can be found on CARE Insights

Tools and guidance for RGA and the Gender Marker coming December 2022!!

Gender-based Violence in Emergencies

GiE Guidance Note Series

Additional resources

For featured videos in this toolkit, see the links below: