Time for a Better Bargain: How the Aid System Shortchanges Women and Girls in Crisis

Publication language
Date published
03 Mar 2021
Research, reports and studies
Children & youth, COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Gender, humanitarian action, Humanitarian Principles, Inclusion, Reduced Inequality (SDG)
CARE International

More than one in 33 people worldwide (235 million) will need humanitarian assistance and protection this year. Women and girls are typically disproportionately affected by conflict and disasters. They are generally more likely to be displaced and subjected to gender-based violence and livelihood loss.  The international community has long recognized that investing in women-led crisis response and prioritizing gender equality are key to effectively meet humanitarian and recovery needs, and to achieve peace and prosperity. Yet despite this recognition, women’s and girls’ priorities often go unmet and their voices and expertise go unheeded. While women constitute the bulk of COVID-19 carers and first responders, women-led groups remain undervalued and under-resourced. Funding to frontline women’s organizations in fragile and conflict-affected areas remains at a paltry 0.2% of total bilateral aid, despite an upward trend of increased total aid committed to support gender equality efforts. 

CARE’s global advocacy campaign, #SheLeadsInCrisis, calls this out: Women are most affected by crises; they must lead efforts to prevent and respond to them. When women and girls lead, entire communities benefit and sustainable solutions prevail. Women’s and girls’ involvement in humanitarian programming yields more effective and inclusive humanitarian response.

To that end, in this report CARE appraises key actors in the international aid system on three priority areas:

A. Resourcing women’s rights organizations, women-led organizations and women’s institutions in crisis-affected areas;

B. Funding for gender equality and empowerment of women’s and girls’ programming; and

C. Elevating leadership and equal participation of women and women’s organizations in humanitarian responses and crises.

This report draws on publicly available and accessible information to assess progress on a set of seven gender-specific benchmarks drawn from the High-Level Roundtable on Women and Girls at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. The roundtable gathered key international actors and governments seeking to define strategic initiatives to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in humanitarian crises in accordance with the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda of the UN Security Council. These proposed commitments present the most concrete set of gender-specific goals for funding and leadership in humanitarian contexts.