On 3 September 2019, Ms. Hiba Qasas, one of the co-Chairs of the IASC Reference Group on Gender and Humanitarian Action (GRG), provided the IASC community with an update on the group's work through an IASC briefing. The GRG, an Entity Associated with the IASC, has a broad membership of NGOs, INGOs, Donors, Consortia, and UN Agencies, and strives to support the integration of gender equality and women's empowerment in humanitarian action, which it has done since its foundation as an IASC subsidiary body in 2006.
Ms. Qasas underlined the gender dimensions of humanitarian crises and action, including the different impacts of disasters across gender identities. While acknowledging remaining challenges and operation barriers, she noted the positive trend of the increasing number of tools, and the improved integration of gender impact in Humanitarian Needs Overviews. However, Ms. Qasas warned against viewing gender considerations primarily or wholly through a victimhood angle, in particular by its close associate with prorection issues such as Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
She highlighted the key results of the group, categorising them into Accountability, Capability, and Training:
Capacity: The flagship Product of the GRG is the IASC Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action, which has proven itself as the go-to gender mainstreaming resource, demonstrated not least during its field testing in Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
Training: The generosity of ECHO has allowed the GRG to develop a training of trainers and course around the Gender Handbook. This e-learning platform has already been accessed by more than 900 participants.
Ms. Qasas then opened the floor for questions, which promoted an engaged discussion between stakeholders working on a multitude of platforms with relevance to the handbook, during which they agreed to follow-up collectively to collaborate in promoting and synergising their tools.
These key messages on quality funding are a collective product of IASC Results Group 4 on Humanitarian-Development Collaboration and IASC Results Group 5 on Humanitarian Financing.
The benefits of quality funding can only be achieved if donors and humanitarian partners work collaboratively and transparently to improve both the provision and programmatic use of bilateral and multilateral quality (flexible, unearmarked and multi-year) funding, learning from evidence-based experience.
In December 2018, the IASC Championship Strategy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment (SH) outlined the vision of “a humanitarian environment in which people caught up in crises feel safe and respected and can access the protection and assistance they need without fear of exploitation or abuse, and in which aid workers themselves feel supported, respected and empowered to deliver such assistance in working environments free from sexual harassment.” Building on the work of previous Champions, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has identified the following three priorities for his Championship, which will run from September 2019 through to August 2020:
Bolstering prevention Eradicating sexual misconduct requires a swift and robust response to any allegation. At the same time, resolute efforts are necessary to prevent such abuses from happening in the first place. We need to ensure that every colleague understands his/her role in preventing and responding to SEA and SH and that the people we serve are aware of their rights to access protection and assistance free from SEA.
Expanding safe spaces It takes considerable courage for a victim/survivor to speak up and we must find every way possible to lighten this burden. This requires that we work together to address the many barriers to reporting, make a victim-centered approach not just a principle but a reality, and protect both survivors and witnesses.
Promoting a respectful use of authority Sexual misconduct is rooted in imbalances of power. We need to reflect on how we use power and privilege and ensure that we create workplaces of respect and accountability, where misconduct is not tolerated, and where senior management communicates, embodies and enforces ethical standards.
The following five initiatives are proposed, each addressing one or more of the outlined priorities.
Hold a session on values, culture and attitudes with IASC Principals: The self-reflective session is expected to be held at an upcoming IASC Principals meeting. It will use an experiential learning methodology and result in clear commitments from the Principals in the area of organizational and culture change to create workplaces of respect and accountability.
Make the IASC commitment more visible: IASC Principals have a responsibility to raise the issue of sexual misconduct at every opportune moment, especially when travelling on mission and engaging with colleagues. To facilitate such exchanges, which can be challenging, including in some specific cultural contexts, an engaging and thought-provoking communications package will be made available to IASC members. In addition, the High Commissioner welcomes a joint field mission with other IASC Principals and/or leaders in this area, to show the IASC commitment on SEA/SH in action, listen to victims and advocate for further mobilization.
Facilitate the sharing of good practices and resources on improving workplace culture: Recognizing the significant efforts undertaken by IASC members in this area, we will build on existing materials, and expand and disseminate them. The aim will be to support all IASC members to engage in reflective processes on individual and organizational culture and to foster working environments that are free from SEA and SH.
Develop an interagency training for partners on protection from sexual misconduct: In order to help all IASC members meet expected standards on protection from SEA and SH, we will work with IOM and other partners to adapt for interagency training purposes an innovative face-to face SEA learning package developed by IOM. The package will also include a component on addressing SH. A training module on SEA investigations will also be made available to all IASC members.
Establish a PSEA community outreach and communications fund: To support IASC members and affiliated partners lacking the resources and/or expertise to develop and disseminate PSEA outreach and communications materials, a fund will be set up to swiftly provide small grants at field-level. Applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have undertaken, in collaboration with communities, an analysis of their needs and preferred channels. Materials developed will be made available to all IASC members.
One of the commitments under the “Reduce duplication and management costs” Grand Bargain workstream is to “reduce duplication of managements and other costs through maximising efficiencies in procurement and logistics for commonly required goods and services”. UNHCR, co-convener of the workstream is working with WFP to deliver on this commitment. When the UN family spends annually USD 18 billion in procurement of goods and services, the savings it generates could amount to hundreds of millions. UNHCR and WFP are leveraging this UN reform opportunity to deliver on the Bussiness Innovation Group (BIG) targets.
In the fall of 2018, the BIG established a dedicated inter-agency Project Team made up of staff from UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP and WFP to design and pilot methodologies to deliver the Secretary-General’s targets set by his December 2017 report (A/72/684). The BIG targets and enablers interconnect and provide the framework and performance requirements that involved partners attempt to achieve in advancing common business operations.
In particular, the enablers aim at providing the foundation to create a field of transparency and accountability for service providers and recipients, the building blocks for enhanced programme delivery under the SDGs.
Please find below an update on the progress to achieve the BIG targets.