Policy Project: Gender and Humanitarian Response

Humanitarian crises affect men, women, girls, and boys differently, making gender an important factor at nearly every level of humanitarian response. From implementing gender equitable programming during a crisis, to negotiating with governments and armed actors in a conflict zone, designing gender-sensitive operations and programming remains a challenge for humanitarian actors. With podcast discussions, blogs, and policy papers, the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA) is committed to providing relevant and intersectional analysis on issues related to gender and humanitarian response, including: gendered experiences of war and disaster; female combatants; gender-sensitive programming in humanitarian emergencies and situations of displacement; best practices for engaging men and boys as allies in the fight to end violence against women; gender in humanitarian work and negotiation; addressing sexual violence and gender-based violence. ATHA is focused on bridging the gap between theory and practice in this area by analyzing practice and identifying key challenges and opportunities for gender-sensitive interventions.


November 2016

Gender Diversity Dynamics in Humanitarian Negotiations: The International Committee of the Red Cross as a Case Study on the Frontlines of Armed Conflicts​

Federica du Pasquier

Executive Summary

Negotiations for access are crucial for the success of humanitarian operations. They also occur in contexts of armed conflict and violence that typically entrench gender identities. Building on the vast research showing that gender affects the conduct and outcome of negotiations... MORE


Monday, March 13, 2017

Practitioner Profile | Sinead Walsh

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Dr. Sinead Walsh is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. MORE

Friday, March 10, 2017

Practitioner Profile | Sarah Martin

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Sarah Martin is a gender-based violence specialist with nearly 20 years of experience in research, advocacy, training and project management with international organizations around the world. MORE

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Practitioner Profile | Lina Abirafeh

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Dr. Lina Abirafeh is the Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW). MORE

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Gender Perspectives on IHL

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Armed conflict affects men, women, girls and boys in fundamentally different ways, often exacerbating pre-existing gender inequalities in society. MORE

Monday, November 7, 2016

Practitioner Profile | Roxanne Krystalli

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The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) recently signed peace accords bringing an end to 52 years of violent conflict. MORE







Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Practitioner Profile | Sareta Ashraph

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In this practitioner profile, ATHA is joined by Sareta Ashraph, Chief Analyst on the Commission of Inquiry on the Syria crisis since May 2012. MORE

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bridging the Gaps: An Interview with Winnie Byanyima

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In this episode, ATHA's Anaide Nahikian talks with Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International. MORE

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Role of Gender in Humanitarian Protection and Response 

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What role does gender play in humanitarian crises? How could a gendered lens improve humanitarian practitioners’ approaches to designing and implementing assistance and protection programs in complex environments? MORE


January 25, 2017

Safety and Security Concerns: Sexual Violence against Humanitarian Aid Workers

This guest blog comes to us from Megan Nobert, a Canadian legal professional and academic specialised in international criminal law and human rights. She is also a humanitarian, having worked in in the Gaza Strip, Jordan and South Sudan on issues of humanitarian law, protection and gender-based violence. Megan is currently based in Geneva, Switzerland, as Founder and Director of Report the AbuseMORE


August 4, 2016

The Gendering of Genocide: ISIS's Crimes Against the Yazidis

ISIS is committing genocide and other international crimes against the Yazidi minority in Iraq and Syria, as determined by the latest report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. According to the Commission, at least 3,200 Yazidi women and children remain in the hands of ISIS, and thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing, meaning that “[t]he genocide of the Yazidis is ongoing.” MORE


April 8, 2016

Where are the Women? The Diverse Roles of Women in Islamic Armed Groups

This guest blog comes to us from Brittany Card. Brittany is a Candidate for the MA in Law and Diplomacy at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where her focus is human security and gender analysis. Previously, she was the Program Coordinator for the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI). MORE

February 19, 2016

IHL and Gender Perspectives: Time for Evolution or Revolution?

Over the last few decades there has been a concerted movement to promote a gender perspective within the international humanitarian law (IHL). Such a movement has gained considerable momentum and importance as a central tool addressing gendered vulnerabilities in conflict. Gender itself can be defined as: "socially constructed differences between persons based on sex, perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression." MORE

February 16, 2016

Beyond 1325: Understanding Gendered Experiences of War

This guest blog comes to us from Roxanne Krystalli and Brittany Card. Roxanne is the Humanitarian Evidence Program Manager at Feinstein International Center at The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She is also a PhD Candidate at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where her research focuses on gender, violence, and transitional justice. Brittany is a Candidate for the MA in Law and Diplomacy at The Fletcher School. Previously, she was the Program Coordinator for the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI). MORE

March 10, 2015

Understanding the Recruitment of Women and Girls to the Islamic State

Despite a growing reputation for brutality, inhumanity and repression – including the rape of women and enslavement minorities – the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has managed to recruit a significant number of women and girls among the thousands of locals and foreigners joining its ranks. Counter to popular assumptions about women’s participation in armed groups, many of these women are joining voluntarily, driven by a variety of motivations. MORE


December 16, 2014

Ending the Culture of Impunity for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict

Last week, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, launched a new Policy on Sexual & Gender-Based Crimes, with the aim of strengthening the investigation and prosecution of these horrific crimes. “[T]he Court has charged 17 individuals implicated in our cases with gender related crimes,” cited the Prosecutor, “whilst specific charges of sexual violence were proffered in 70 per cent of our cases.” MORE


November 5, 2014

How Does Gender Affect the Security of Humanitarian Staff?

Regarding the question of how gender affects the security of humanitarian staff, in short, not nearly enough data has been collected. While the field of humanitarian security management has advanced significantly in recent years, serious gaps remain in both knowledge and practice. MORE


October 2, 2014

Sexual Violence in ISIS's "Islamic State": An International Crime

Whereas ISIS’s brutal beheadings and mass atrocities committed against minority populations have garnered significant international attention, and spurred a multilateral military intervention, their war against women has received much less focus. In their advances across Syria and Iraq, ISIS fighters have namely used various forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women and children in areas under their control. MORE



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