New York, May 5 2015: On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates mission to the United Nations hosted a panel discussion on “Gender Responsive in Humanitarian Intervention: eveloped Perspective”.
The panel was the fifth part of a Panel Series on Women, Peace and Security hosted in partnership with UN Women as the Secretariat of the Global Study on the Implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and OCHA
The discussion centered around means to strengthen gender-responsive governance, bolster women’s economic security, and advance women’s rights to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance and consequently contribute to longer-term development goals.
The panel brought together high-level UN officials and experts, including Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Yannick Glemarec, Assistant Secretary-General, Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme, UN Women, David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee, H.R.H. Princess Sarah Zeid, Princess of Jordan, Maternal and Newborn Health Advocate and Julie Lafrenière, Head of Gender-Based Violence and Conflict Initiative, Oxfam Canada.
In her opening remarks, the UAE permanent representative to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh highlighted the significance of the discussion, saying that it aligns with the UAE’s support to women, peace and security agenda and the forthcoming Global Study on the Implementation of United Nation Security Resolution (1325). “It rightly defies the stereotype of women as victims, and instead highlights their agency as vital to international peace and security efforts,” she added.
Speaking on the increasing need to integrate a gender-response into humanitarian interventions, the ambassador cited that three quarters of today’s 52 million refugees are women and children, who tend to be affected by conflict in very different ways from men. She indicted that in such circumstances women and girls increasingly shoulder more responsibilities, as they become heads of households and the primary protectors and providers for dependent family members.
Nusseibeh warned that failure to integrate gender into humanitarian action will lead to increased gender inequality and may hamper the effectiveness of relief programs. “If gender is not considered, there is a danger that women become invisible in relief programs,” she said.
In her recommendations, the ambassador called for recognizing the distinct needs, contributions, and capacities of women and girls in humanitarian interventions, suggesting that involving women at the planning stage will allow their highly relevant experience, as care-takers and providers for families, to be integrated into the design and delivery of appropriate responses.
She pointed out that political will, leadership, financing, and formal mechanisms are essential elements to efficiently incorporate gender considerations in humanitarian interventions, adding that more need to be done at policy levels to integrate the work of the humanitarian and development communities. On closing gap between humanitarian and development assistance the ambassador cited the Ministry of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) as an exemplary model of how the UAE addressed this challenge.
“We look towards the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, the time is ripe to reform the humanitarian system to better protect, assist, and empower women and girls in emergencies”, she concluded.
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Kyung-wha Kang stressed that forced displacement deepened the existing gender inequalities, and that displaced women face increased fragility and exclusion. “We need to change this picture and take a different approach,” she said, urging for adopting measures of accountability that allow agencies to track how much funding goes to gender equality programming.
Yannick Glemarec, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme in UN Women, noted that there is huge body of evidence that strong women’s engagement in peace and security efforts can enhance humanitarian efforts, economic revitalization, and prevent relapse into violence, “yet less than 2% of overall investment in peace and security targets women.”
David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee spoke on the work at IRC highlighting the importance of creating linkage between the humanitarian and development communities and the need to establish measures of auditing and scoring institutions for how well they are doing on this agenda. He also noted that there is a grave danger of treating women and girls as a “sector” alongside health and education. “It is important that they are not treated as a sector, they are people who suffer a range of inequalities, and who have a range of assets, and who demand a range of services.”
H.R.H. Princess Sarah Zeid, Princess of Jordan talked about best means of promoting and instituting gender-sensitive health programs in humanitarian response, saying that “The health of women and children is not a panacea for all our troubles, but we cannot face the future without it.”
Julie Lafrenière, Head of Gender-Based Violence and Conflict Initiative, Oxfam Canada, highlighted that the work on women’s empowerment and gender equality should continue in times of crisis, stressing that women’s organizations and movements must be galvanized.