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  • Blog
  • 25 November 2022

Funding to address gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies must go further

In this blog, DI’s Carina Chicet highlights key areas for improvement in the prevention, mitigation and response to gender-based violence in crisis settings.

Written by Carina Chicet

Senior Analyst

The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence (GBV) is an annual campaign that begins today, 25 November, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until International Human Rights Day on 10 December. To mark this campaign we are highlighting key takeaways from our research on tracking funding commitments to prevent and respond to GBV in emergencies.

GBV is a prevailing issue in humanitarian emergencies. From increased levels of intimate partner violence and sexual violence used as a tactic of war to other practices rooted in gender inequalities, these issues have been highlighted again and again, and most recently in crises such as the war in Ukraine, Horn of Africa drought and the floods in Pakistan.

GBV is systemically underfunded. Despite much-needed progress, GBV remains one of the least-funded areas under the Protection cluster. Additionally, GBV prevention, risk mitigation and response is not prioritised enough at the field level to meet needs or close funding gaps. While the quality of reporting on GBV programming has improved in recent years, data gaps remain, in particular on how much funding reaches local and national women-led and women’s rights organisations (WLOs/WROs), which are on the frontline of GBV response.

It is essential to keep driving progress on increasing funding for GBV programming, to advocate for donors and humanitarian agencies to prioritise GBV in humanitarian response and to sustain the increase in reporting of this funding on UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’s Financial Tracking Service (OCHA’s FTS) for the GBV Area of Responsibility (AoR). These efforts are both supporting and dependent on wider humanitarian system reform under the Grand Bargain commitments on localisation, quality of funding and commitments to improve transparency.

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Four key areas for improvement to drive progress in responding to GBV:

1 - GBV funding is woefully inadequate, accounting for less than 1% of total humanitarian funding.

GBV funding represents an increasing but very small proportion of total international humanitarian assistance, growing from 0.43% in 2020 to 0.83% in 2021. The increase in funding evident in the data, while linked to the progress by the Call to Action[1] members to facilitate resource allocation and better coordination of GBV prevention and response, is also due to improved reporting and tracking of this funding. Notably, since 2019, UN OCHA’s FTS has included a sector-specific page for tracking GBV funding – we analysed this in detail in our report. Despite this progress, current 2022 data on GBV funding reported to UN OCHA’s FTS indicates that volumes are set to be noticeably lower than 2021.

2 - Needs related to GBV are growing faster than the funding response and increased rhetoric has not translated into action.

While the proportion of funding requirements met for the GBV AoR remained relatively stable over the past four years at around 25%, the number of people in need of protection from GBV has risen significantly. Further, the Global Protection Cluster’s mid-year 2022 report showed that the number of people in need has continued to increase this year by a third, while the current funding coverage for GBV of under 13% is among the lowest out of all sectors in 2022 according to FTS data.

3 - Local and national women-led and women’s rights organisations (WLOs/WROs) have limited access to funding, despite being on the frontline of responding to GBV.

Local and national WLOs/WROs are frontline responders providing lifesaving services to crisis-affected women and girls in their contexts. However, very limited amounts of funding are provided to local and national actors directly or indirectly to respond to GBV.[2] It is difficult to calculate this funding at a global level, due to large data gaps for indirect funding and the lack of sector-wide agreed definitions on what local and national actors are considered WLOs/WROs. At a country level, our recent study on tracking funding for the Syrian refugee response to local and national actors in Türkiye found that less than 0.2% of direct or indirect funding reached women’s organisations in 2020. This limited access to funding creates further barriers to women’s organisations’ meaningful participation and decision-making within the humanitarian system.[3] Pooled funds have been identified as an important instrument to channel more direct funding to WLOs/WROs, though only few specifically target women’s organisations (like the Women's Peace and Humanitarian Fund or the Equality Fund).

4 - Current reporting does not provide adequate data on where funding is going, preventing women’s and girls’ needs from being met.

To prevent gaps in meeting the needs of women and girls in emergencies, it is essential to have a sufficient picture of funding for these needs. Whilst data on funding for GBV response has improved in recent years, there is little visibility of the contribution to meeting GBV needs through cross-sectoral allocations and ‘mainstreaming’ of GBV risk mitigation across sector-specific activities. To gain a better picture of funding to WLOs/WROs responding to GBV, a clear set of definitions for responders must be agreed upon and subsequently be used on the FTS and internally by humanitarian donors and agencies, alongside the option for organisations to self-declare as WLOs/WROs (e.g., on the UN Partner Portal).

Efforts by the Call to Action are underway to unlock more funding for GBV and to improve the reporting and tracking of this funding. DI is working to support these efforts and help fill the data and evidence gaps by working on country case studies to track funding to women's organisations with IRC and other partners. For organisations providing lifesaving services to crisis-affected women and girls, sufficient, good quality funding is essential. An increase in international humanitarian funding for GBV and support to women’s organisations is urgently needed.