• Report
  • 13 April 2022

Funding for gender-relevant humanitarian response: Appendix 1



The report methodology was outlined in the report introduction (see Report methodology sub-section). This appendix provides more detail and addresses the limitations with this approach.

Development Initiatives seeks to provide analysis on international funding for gender-relevant humanitarian programming by developing a new methodology to track this funding at the global level. The analysis draws on funding data from 2018 to 2021 reported to the UN OCHA’s FTS.[1] As the majority of FTS flows data is not marked with a gender marker designed to track this type of financing (see section Reporting of gender-relevant humanitarian assistance), a keyword search methodology was developed. This methodology works by including funding reported to the Global Protection Cluster GBV AoR[2] complemented by a keyword search applied on all FTS flows in the time period. The keyword search scans financial flow descriptions for key words or phrases in three languages (English, French and Spanish) in an attempt to identify which flows are gender-relevant. Out of 84,200 flow descriptions that were scanned on FTS data between 2018 and 2021, we identified over 3,750 (4.5%) unique descriptions of humanitarian financing flows reported to the FTS as gender-relevant; this included over 700 unique IDs of humanitarian projects focused on gender equality.

All funding under the Global Protection Cluster GBV AoR is considered ‘gender specific’, with a key focus on addressing gender-related needs and advancing gender equality.

For all other flows, two lists of keywords were used, one generic and one specific, and a third list of disqualifying terms was used in parallel to the generic list. Keywords for the specific list were selected based on several themes and issues including: violence against women and girls; sexual and reproductive health and rights; women’s discrimination; and women’s empowerment. An initial list of around 30 keywords was developed, and gender glossaries were then used to supplement the list to over 100 terms.[3] The methodology and guidance acknowledge that gender goes beyond the binary of female and male and also includes issues of sexual orientation and gender identity; LGBTQ+ terms such as ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘transgender’ were also included.

The generic keyword list included the terms: ‘women’, ‘woman’, ‘girls’, ‘female’ and its translations in French and Spanish, and it mirrored the list of disqualifying terms (‘men’, ‘boys’, ‘male’).

The analysis defines two classifications of keywords: major and minor. Major keywords attempt to pick up flows with a gender-specific goal. For example, ‘women empowerment’ or ‘sexual and reproductive health’ are defined as major keywords (or phrases) and thus a flow with one of these in the description would be assumed to be gender-specific. In contrast, minor keywords attempt to pick up gender-mainstreamed flows that consider differing gender needs in programming but where gender-related needs are not the key focus. For example, if a flow description contains ‘women and girls’ as standalone (e.g. does not contain ‘men and boys’) it would be classed as a gender-mainstreamed flow. Gender-mainstreamed flow descriptions identified make up 1.5% of the total flow descriptions and a third (33%) of gender-relevant flows. When women and girls are mentioned as standalone in a flow description (e.g. “this project will support the food security needs of displaced people, including women and girls…”) with no further detail on the project implementation, the mainstreamed marking of the flow might be seen as overly generous; in these cases, there is large uncertainty of how the activity addresses and acknowledges the specific needs of women and girls.

Treatment of multi-sector flows

FTS flows can be reported with multiple sectors/clusters information. Funding allocated in flows with multiple sectors/clusters listed were split out equally across each cluster, effectively creating a new flow for each cluster. The keyword search was then applied on each new split flow to determine if a major or minor keyword was present, allocating the flow to gender-specific or gender-mainstreamed funding as a result.

Flows that were multi-sector, with one of the sectors being Global Protection Cluster GBV AoR were treated differently to flows that were solely allocated to this cluster. They were allocated as gender-mainstreamed funding as it was interpreted that considerations for protection from GBV were taken across the project or programme. The remaining split-flows from this multi-sector were allocated in accordance with the keyword search as other (single-sector) flows for consistency.

Manual checks

Following classification of flows with major or minor keywords, the largest identified flows on the FTS (over $10 million) were checked manually to ensure they were correctly categorised as ‘specific’ or ‘mainstreamed’. These were mostly large cash and voucher assistance programmes that included GBV as a main objective but from the available flow descriptions were not assessed to meet the specific needs, priorities or interests of women and girls.

Gender specific Global
Protection Cluster GBV AoR
Gender specific Major
female empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and rights, female genital
Gender mainstreamed Minor
women, girls

Data and methodology limitations

This sub-section considers data and methodology limitations for this study (see also the Development Initiatives’ approach and learning sub-section in the body of the report).

The report methodology relies on the FTS flow descriptions to identify gender-relevant financing. This means that the identification process would not include flows without a detailed enough description or no description. Given it is voluntary to report flow descriptions to the FTS and these tend to be short, the funding flows identified to be gender-relevant outside of the GBV cluster are likely an underestimation.

It is also important to note, project description fields on the FTS are approached differently by different reporting organisations, thus the allocation of flows as gender specific, gender mainstreamed or not targeted might not be consistent across reporters.

There are also limitations with the dataset used for the analysis, as reporting to the FTS might not be systematic across all humanitarian actors and data gaps remain. In the future, this methodology would benefit from application and testing on other humanitarian funding platforms, such as IATI.

To more accurately decide if a flow is gender relevant would rely upon analysis of project documents and granular information, not seen as feasible for the purposes of quantifying gender funding at a global scale. To note, there is a growing number of case studies and methodologies for quantifying this funding at a country, national or regional level (for a full list, see Appendix 2: Bibliography). With more granular data, the following assessments could complement the marking: a) does this initiative contribute to gender equality or narrowing gender inequalities? b) is there a specific outcome that is tracked, reported on, and evaluated? For example, this detail is captured by the re-designed questionnaire of the IASC Gender with Age Marker.[4] This could be explicitly looking at gaps and narrowing them (e.g. narrowing the gender gap in educational services, increasing women’s roles in decision-making, and supporting women’s meaningful roles in peace negotiations).

While this methodology allows for determination of whether a flow is gender specific or mainstreamed, it does not allow us to ascertain what proportion of the funding in that flow went towards gender-related issues or programming. This is particularly the case for gender-mainstreamed flows where it is likely only a small and varying proportion of funding was addressing gender-related needs. We believe mainstreamed funding represents the upper range of actual funding, as detailed in Box 1.2.

Limitations of the FTS

The following limitations of the data platform relevant for this analysis include:

  • Data gaps for total volume of funding or number of projects. The historical focus of the FTS has been to track funding progress against response plan requirements. Despite its ambition to capture all humanitarian funding flows beyond those plans, it is voluntary to report to the FTS and some large humanitarian actors operating outside of UN-coordinated response plans (e.g. Médecins Sans Frontières and parts of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement) only inconsistently report funding and project information to the FTS.
  • Data gaps within funding flows or projects captured by the FTS. Again, given the voluntary nature of reporting to the FTS and different reporting practices favoured by agencies or humanitarian country teams, there are data gaps for, for example, flow descriptions or cluster information. This means funding reported to the GBV cluster probably represents a lower bound estimate.

Methodology to track funding to local and national organisations

One of the research questions of this study was around quantifying the funding to women-led organisations. In the absence of an agreed definition reflected in reporting standards on the FTS platform of what constitutes such funding, localisation analysis presented in this report uses as a proxy the amounts of gender-relevant funding to local and national organisations. This is based on gender-relevant funding according to our keyword search methodology for this report as well as Development Initiatives’ own internal coding to determine flows going to local and national organisations, following the methodology used within DI’s GHA reports.[5]

While this is a best attempt to quantify localised gender-relevant financing in the humanitarian sector, we recognise it still only demonstrates a partial picture. A large amount of localised funding flows indirectly to local and national organisations, and it is not common for indirect funding to be reported to the FTS. Therefore, gender-relevant funding to local and national organisations in this report largely only reflects direct funding. If reporting of indirect funding improved, we would hope to see more gender-relevant funding flowing to local and national organisations. Moreover, the IASC agreeing a definition of women-led organisations for humanitarian funding tracking purposes could see tracking of funding data improve once this definition is applied on the FTS platform.


  • 1
    UN OCHA FTS is an open data platform for all humanitarian donors and implementing agencies to voluntarily report contributions of internationally provided humanitarian assistance, according to a set of inclusion criteria determined by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. Available at: https://fts.unocha.org/.
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