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.

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:

Gender in MEAL provides the opportunity to understand, learn from, and respond to the changing realities and experiences of individuals of all genders in an emergency response.

Gender Meal systems should be designed to ensure that systems and activities:

  • are participatory
  • are not gender-neutral
  • are designed to understand and challenge unequal power relations

MEAL should contribute to social change by raising the voices of marginalized groups to influence decision-making that affects them.[1]

CARE’s global indicators provide guidance on monitoring changes related to Gender Equality.

Tools and guidance below can support Gender in MEAL:

Analyse sex- and age-disaggregated data

In emergencies the collection, analysis and use of sex, gender and age disaggregated data is crucial. This allows an understanding of the needs, priorities and capacities of people of all genders. Data on other diversity factors, based on the context, is also important. This can include information on ethnicity, caste, religion and disability.

The Washington Group Short Set of Questions on Disability can be used for collecting data related to disability. These questions focus on identifying persons who have difficulty performing identified universal activities. These activities include walking, seeing, hearing, cognition, self-care and communication. Questions can be used in settings with limited time and resources.

Identify, monitor, and respond to gendered issues

Integrating gender into MEAL requires building gender reflection into monitoring. This involves:

  • analysing and understanding sex, gender, age and other data on diversity
  • understanding how this data influences programming
  • reflecting on how current programming will, or is, having an impact on different groups.

It is necessary to review how the situation is changing for different sex, gender, age and diversity groups. Based on this, ensuring a response tailored to these changes such as: protection risks and needs, unintended consequences, and changing gender roles and relations.

Gender Equality Women’s Voice (GEWV) indicators

These indicators aim to capture, measure, and track the changes occurring as a result of dedicated gender approaches. They can be used across development and humanitarian programming. The data aims to build a picture of changes in agency, structures, and relations in a specific context.

CARE’s Gender Marker

**The CARE Gender Marker was updated in 2021**

The CARE Gender Marker is a tool that supports CARE’s Gender Equality and Women’s Voice Approach. CARE’s Gender Marker is a self-assessment program quality and learning tool. The aim is to monitor and learn, to what extent gender equality is integrated in humanitarian projects. The Gender Marker uses the CARE Gender Continuum; a five-point scale from gender unaware to gender 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.

Links to resources and guidance are below:

Accountability to affected populations

Protection from Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse (PSHEA) is essential to CARE’s organisational commitments. These commitments are critical to uphold the dignity and human rights of people CARE works with.

CARE’s International Policy on Protection from Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse and Child Abuse (2020) outlines zero tolerance toward sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse and child abuse.

External references include:

CARE’s Strategic Impact Inquiry (SII)

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

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

Gender in Emergency Preparedness Planning (EPP) lays a strong foundation for delivering a gender sensitive response. EPP must include gender equality and women’s empowerment. The following steps can help ensure the integration of gender throughout the EPP process.

It is important that gender equality is integrated into the seven steps of the EPP process. Section 9: Emergency Preparedness Planning outlines these steps. This includes Minimum Preparedness Action (MPAs). Key MPA’s include:

MPA #4: Prepare and update the Gender Brief:

  • Download the Gender in Brief Guidance Note
  • Review example Gender in Briefs, internally on the CARE RGA Sharepoint page and externally on the CARE Insights page.
  • MPA #7: Train the ERT on gender issues (The IASC e-learning course is a minimum requirement).
  • MPA # 14: Identify and pre-screen new implementing partners (especially women’s organizations) for potential collaboration in a humanitarian response. This includes their gender capacity.
  • MPA #22: All staff are familiar with the CI Prevention of Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse policy (English, French and Spanish)

In addition, important preparedness measures include:

  1. Review the Emergency Preparedness Planning Guidance Note.
  2. Identify a Gender in Emergencies (GiE) focal point. The Focal Point should take part in relevant trainings (e.g. CARE’s Rapid Gender Analysis Course). The Focal Point should be connected with the CARE International GiE Co-Ordinator and other technical support in the GiE team.
  3. Prepare a Gender Action Plan and include this with the EPP workbook
  4. Conduct a gender equality and diversity in emergencies training session with all staff.
  5. Ensure Gender Balanced Teams!
  6. Identify women’s civil society organisations to engage and partner with, in line with CARE’s partnership approach and Partnership Guidance Note
  7. Engage and connect with inter-agency preparedness/coordination mechanisms. This can be in the HCT, Protection cluster, GBV sub-cluster, country and regional-level gender-working groups or task forces.

Section 9: Emergency Preparedness Planning, provides further details on EPP

CARE’s International Gender Policy (internal) outlines explicit commitments to support gender equality.

It is crucial that humanitarian responders have the right skills, tools, and capacities to integrate gender. This requires appropriate and adequate internal financial and human resources. Considerations include:

  • A gender-balanced team at all levels. This allows teams to work with, communicate and engage with people of all genders and ages. Based on the context, other diversity factors should be considered, to ensure teams are representative of the population. CARE’s guidance note on CARE’s guidance note on Recruiting Gender Balanced Teams, provides six key steps. The steps focus on under-represented groups, particularly women and persons from minority or at-risk groups.
  • Budget for appropriate and adequate resources to fund gender mainstreaming work and targeted responses. This includes approaches such as a Rapid Gender Analysis and Women Lead in Emergencies. Crucial, is the inclusion of budgets for Gender in Emergencies technical specialists to work within emergency response teams. This includes short term deployable GiE specialists and long term GiE staff.  

Links to resources and guidance are below:

Train and provide briefings to all staff on gender equality and diversity. This includes partners and volunteers. Include specific mention of their gender responsibilities and objectives in their ToR. Key training and orientation includes:

Staff should sign up to the next trainings on RGA and Women Lead in Emergencies to build staff capacity in these crucial areas.

Gender-sensitive partnerships. Ensure an understanding of, and commitment to, gender equality and gender-sensitivity in the selection of partners:

  • Fund, conduct and use RGAs to understand the capacities, strengths, needs and concerns of persons of all genders and diversity in the population. This will also show how these have changed since the crisis
  • Collect, analyse and report data based on sex and age. Where possible gender, disability and other diversity factors. Ensure information from women is collected by women and men by men
  • Develop targeted actions based on RGA findings to design or adapt services. This will support meeting the different needs of persons of all genders and diversities
  • Persons of all genders and diversities must have equal access to programmes and services
  • Track the outcome of RGAs. This will ensure accountability to the findings and crisis affected populations
  • Integrate Sectoral Minimum Commitments within all programming
  • Persons of all genders and diversities have opportunities to participate equally. This can be in assessments, programme design, implementation, MEAL and other response activities
  • Active efforts made to increase women’s voice, participation and leadership across sectors and throughout the response
  • Explore partnerships with local CSOs including Women’s Rights Organisations and Women-Led Organisations
  • Include GBV risk mitigation measures within all sectoral programmes
  • Develop targeted GBV prevention and response initiatives where appropriate. These should be context-specific and in line with CARE’s GBViE approach
  • Staff, partners and volunteers are aware of the GBV referrals pathways/systems . They have the skills to respond to a disclosure of GBV in a safe and confidential manner, in line with the survivor centered approach
  • Information on available medical, legal, psychosocial and protection support is accessible to survivors
  • Coordinate actions with all partners in the response by engaging with the cluster systems, working groups and task forces
  • Monitor intended and unintended impacts of the response on persons of all genders and diversities
  • Responsive, safe, and equally accessible accountability mechanisms are in place. These should take into account how people prefer to engage, receive, access and provide information based on sex, gender, age, disability, literacy levels and other diversity factors
  • Proposals, projects and reports include specific gender plans, goals, indicators and budgets. These should be continuously monitored against CARE’s Gender Marker
  • Gender balanced teams who are representative of the diversity within the population
  • Train women and men equally. Provide women and men equal benefits and pay for equal work. Women and men should have equal opportunities for advancement. Understand context specific gender dynamics, to avoid increasing the burden of work for women and girls
  • Each sector team appoints a Gender Focal Point, even when there is someone with specific Gender in Emergencies role
  • Actively ensure staff and partners are accountable to gender equality goals. Include specific responsibilities in TORs
  • Train all staff, partners and volunteers on their individual and collective responsibilities to protect against sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse

GiE Guidance Note Series 

GiE Approach Areas – Summaries

Rapid Gender Analysis

Rapid Gender Analysis Guidance Note Series

Rapid Gender Analysis Tools

Additional resources for CARE staff conducting RGA’s, including RGAs during COVID can be found internally on the RGA Sharepoint Page (Coming soon!)

All previous RGA’s can be found on CARE’s Evaluation Library

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

Women Lead in Emergencies

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

Women Lead in Emergencies Guidance Note Series 

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

Gender-based Violence in Emergencies

For CARE staff, additional resources to support GBV programming can be found on the CARE Sharepoint page

For persons external to CARE, additional resources can be found in the GBViE section of the CARE Emergency Toolkit

CARE Gender Marker

Gender Marker Mini Guides

Additional Resources

CARE resources

External resources

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