European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Gender- and age-sensitive aid

© European Union/IRC UK/Panos Pictures

Why is this important?

Natural disasters and man-made crises are not gender-neutral – they have a different impact on women, girls, boys, men and elderly persons. Therefore, gender and age need to be considered in the humanitarian response to ensure that the assistance reaches the most vulnerable and respond adequately to the differentiated needs and abilities of different groups. For instance, water containers should not be too heavy so that children or elderly women are able to carry them. 

Taking gender and age into consideration is a matter of quality humanitarian programming, as well as a matter of compliance with EU humanitarian mandate and international commitments. Aid that is gender- and age-insensitive is less effective. It risks not reaching the most vulnerable people or failing to respond adequately to their specific needs. Furthermore, it could expose vulnerable populations to risks such as sexual and gender-based violence.

In order to ensure that the humanitarian response is adapted to address the specific needs of different groups of the populations, both women and men of all ages should be consulted and participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of the humanitarian program.  

How are we helping?

To ensure that the highest quality of humanitarian responses can be provided to those in need, gender and age issues are always considered in humanitarian operations funded by the European Commission.

Specific actions in EU-funded projects are targeted to vulnerable groups. Here are some examples:

  • Women: nutritional support to pregnant and breast-feeding women;
  • Children: child protection or education in emergencies; and
  • Elderly people: health assistance to elderly people living in isolated communities.

In addition to specific targeted actions, gender and age considerations need to be mainstreamed in all operations.

Regarding gender, in line with the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid and following recommendations from the Gender Review report, the Commission has developed a gender approach for humanitarian assistance. According to this approach, projects funded through the EU humanitarian budget are expected to follow the guidance outlined in the 'Staff Working Document on Gender in Humanitarian Assistance: Different Needs, Adapted Assistance' (official version, brochure version available in English, French and Spanish). 

In 2014, to ensure effective policy implementation, the Commission introduced the Gender-Age Marker (available in English, French, and Spanish) in January 2014, as a quality and accountability tool to assess, promote and track gender- and age-sensitive humanitarian interventions. This instrument is applied to all Commission-funded humanitarian actions.





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