Gender in Humanitarian Aid

​Women, girls, men and boys are affected differently by humanitarian crisis and respond in different ways. While men and boys have a higher likelihood of becoming direct victims of armed conflict (forced recruitment, killings, arrests, disappearances) women and girls are more likely to die in natural disasters. Conflict or disaster-induced displacement often increases the number of female headed households and socio-economic vulnerability, leading to an elevated risk of exploitation, abuse and negative coping mechanisms. Women and girls (particularly adolescent girls) also face a heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and frequently take on additional tasks and roles (care-taking of sick and injured family members, more time spent on collection of water and firewood, livelihoods activities etc.), which may increase women and girls’ workload while challenging traditional gender roles. Women and men’s access to humanitarian aid and their ability to participate in the humanitarian response also differs: women might traditionally be excluded from participation and their mobility be restricted by cultural norms, an unsafe environment, daily chores, care-taking roles or lacking sanitary pads during menstruation. Meanwhile, 18-20 % of women in reproductive age will either be pregnant or lactating, while limited access to sexual and reproductive health services negatively impacts maternal mortality.


SDC promotes gender-responsive humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction, which takes into the account the different needs, capacities and priorities of women, men, girls and boys, promotes women’s and girls’ participation, including in decision-making, works on the basis of sex- and age-disaggregated data, ensures meaningful, non-discriminatory and safe access to humanitarian assistance and services, protects the rights of women and girls, men and boys and prevents and responds to SGBV – a priority topic of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Department from 2017 onwards. Where necessary, targeted action is taken to address gender-specific needs or discrimination.


World Humanitarian Summit 2016: Core Commitments on Gender Equality (endorsed by Switzerland)  

Individual Swiss commitments to the World Humanitarian Summit 2016
SDC Gender and Humanitarian Aid


Further thematic publications and resources on gender, fragility and conflict you find here.