The Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies is a global initiative of governments and donors, international organisations (IOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Its aim is to drive change and foster accountability from the humanitarian system to address GBV from the earliest phases of a crisis.
Early and sustained action to prevent, mitigate, and respond to GBV is at the heart of the humanitarian mandate. It is a collective responsibility that requires all elements of the humanitarian system to do their part.
The Call to Action was launched in 2013 by the United Kingdom and Sweden. to meet this challenge head on—to secure the transformational change that ensures priority attention to the needs and rights of women and girls and GBV survivors in humanitarian action.
The objectives of the Call to Action are:
1. Establish specialized GBV services and programs that are accessible to anyone affected by GBV and are available from the onset of an emergency.
2. Integrate and implement actions to prevent GBV and to mitigate GBV risk across all levels and sectors of humanitarian response from the earliest stages of an emergency and throughout the program cycle.
3. Mainstream gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls throughout humanitarian action.
The Call to Action complements and reinforces other existing initiatives by providing an overarching framework under which they can situate their work. Call to Action Partners will achieve their common aim by implementing the Initiative’s Road Map.
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.
The Call to Action is composed of three Working Groups (States and Donors, IOs, and NGOs), a Steering Committee (co-chairs of each Working Group) and a Lead (overseeing the whole process).
All partners formally affirm the goal, objectives, and core principles of the Call to Action. Adopt and implement organizational policies on GBV, gender equality, and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, commit to at least two Key Action Areas to achieve the Outcomes described in the Road Map; report annually on progress towards commitments; and participate in Working Groups.
The Call to Action’s organizational structure is intended to:
Leverage the value of Call to Action’s multi-stakeholder membership.
Support coordinated action across the partnership.
Promote mutual respect and collaboration among partners.
The global Lead of the Call to Action is a State actor. The Lead should play a prominent role in humanitarian policy and funding, be a recognized champion of GBV and gender equality issues, and fully engaged in the Call to Action. The Call to Action Lead is expected to serve two to three calendar years, and to have the financial and human resources to meet its responsibilities including: Facilitating the work of the Call to Action, overseeing the implementation and monitoring of the Road Map, and leading the initiative’s advocacy work.
Stakeholder Working Groups
The Working Groups help sustain the engagement of partners and secure their input on collective Call to Action activities. They are a forum for partners to share their successes and challenges with fellow stakeholders. The Working Groups identify activities to undertake within the group and/or in collaboration with other Working Groups. They can also help identify new partners and support them to contribute to and benefit from the Call to Action. Every partner is expected to participate actively in their respective working group.
The Steering Committee comprises the Lead and six committee members –two co-chairs selected from each Stakeholder Working Group. Steering Committee members are selected by their Working Groups to serve two to three years. Steering Committee members ensure that the views of their respective working groups are brought to leadership discussions on the work of the Call to Action. The Committee meets by teleconference at least quarterly or as needed to identify opportunities for cross-stakeholder collaboration on advocacy, funding and program issues.