Out of the shadows: gender-based violence prevention in emergencies

تم النشر: 9 أكتوبر 2015 17:04 CET

By Kate Roux, IFRC

In March 2015, officials from Guinea and Liberia discovered that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa had exacerbated violence against women and hindered access to reproductive healthcare in the region. Data indicated a 4.5 per cent increase in cases of gender-based violence since before the epidemic including twice as many rapes. The prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence is a critical humanitarian issue. And yet one that remains overlooked during health or disaster emergencies.

Globally, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is taking steps to address these gaps. Part of these efforts included a four-day training programme on gender and diversity for National Societies in Southeast Asia from 5-8 October in Bangkok. The training covered a range of issues, including sexual and gender-based violence, in order to increase sensitivity in Red Cross Red Crescent programming towards all disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, women, children and those with disabilities.

“We want to ensure the critical issue of sexual and gender-based violence is not left in the shadows,” said Anne E. Leclerc, head of the IFRC South-East Asia regional delegation. “There is tremendous experience that National Societies have in this disaster-prone region, and our goal is to simply expand their technical expertise in the areas of gender and diversity, and ensure it includes a focus on this very important issue.”

The training brings together 10 National Society representatives from areas of health, disaster management, international relations and organizational development. Through a series of interactive sessions and lectures, participants are not only addressing the link between gender and violence, but how and why it fits into emergency response.

A disaster response simulation is being conducted by Thai Red Cross Society outside Bangkok to take the training from theory to practice. The goal is for all of the participants to then conduct additional training when return to their National Society.

“As we work with women and children in communities, we have an important opportunity to address gender-based violence issues,” said Mom Chanty, Deputy Director of the Health Department for the Cambodian Red Cross. “We can do this through our community-based health and disaster management programmes, as well as through our volunteer networks to raise awareness.”

The outcomes from the event will contribute to discussions at the International Conference in December 2015. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is expected to further develop the current draft resolution for National Societies to continue advancing efforts in the area of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and emergencies.

Learn more about the work on gender and diversity in Southeast Asia. The training in Bangkok is done with the support of the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Government.