What is the Call to Action initiative?

The Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies is a global initiative of governments and donors, international organisations and non-governmental organisations. Its aim is to drive change and foster accountability from the humanitarian system to address GBV from the earliest phases of a crisis. The initiative was launched in 2013 by the United Kingdom and Sweden. The Call to Action is an unprecedented initiative that has the power to trigger the systemic changes that must be made in policy and practice to transform the humanitarian response to GBV.

Watch the Call to Action video

What are the objectives of the Call to Action?

The Call to Action is based on a human rights based approach namely (1) establishing specialised GBV prevention and response services and programs that are accessible to anyone affected by, or at-risk of, GBV and are available from the onset of an emergency, (2) integrating and implementing actions to prevent, reduce and mitigate GBV risk across all levels and sectors of humanitarian response from the earliest stages of emergencies and throughout the programme cycle, and (3) mainstreaming gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls throughout humanitarian action.


What makes the Call to Action unique?

The Call to Action is fostering unprecedented action to trigger the systemic changes that must be made in policies and practices to transform the humanitarian response to GBV. It has been unique in its ability to command high-level commitment and attention from a diverse set of humanitarian actors.

Why should gender-based violence be addressed in humanitarian emergencies?


GBV is a pervasive and life-threatening health, human rights, and protection issue. Deeply rooted in gender inequality and norms that disempower and discriminate, GBV is exacerbated in humanitarian emergencies where vulnerability and risks are high, yet family and community protections have broken down. While GBV can affect both females and males, globally women and girls are disproportionately affected.


Despite its prevalence, prevention of and response to GBV are rarely undertaken from the earliest stages of emergencies. Moreover, there are insufficient mechanisms in place at the policy, funding, systems, and implementation levels to ensure that GBV will be comprehensively addressed and prioritized.


The particular risks faced by women and girls can be heightened when humanitarians overlook women’s strength and agency and when they do not work with local women’s organizations and female leaders. The failure to link GBV prevention and risk mitigation efforts with gender equality work to address existing gender discrimination also exacerbates the problem. Inaction, when it occurs, represents a failure on the part of humanitarians to fulfil their basic responsibilities to protect people and their rights.

Please find the Call to Action brochure here.


Disclaimer: the Government of Canada is the current Lead of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies and, therefore, in line with the Roadmap 2016-2020, responsible for maintaining this website for the duration of the Lead. The information and views set out do not necessarily reflect the view of the Government of Canada.

©2020 by Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies.