Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

Service tools

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. Women, children and the elderly constitute the majority of those affected by crises. Yet, while assistance often focuses on them, humanitarian aid activities are at times designed without considering their specific needs.

In order to be effective, humanitarian assistance must take gender and age into account when responding to the different 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.

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.

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, the Commission introduced the Gender-Age Marker (available in English, French, and Spanish) as a quality tool to assess to promote and track gender- and age-sensitive humanitarian interventions. This instrument should be applied throughout all Commission-funded actions.



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