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Less than 1 % of humanitarian aid spent on protecting women from violence in crisis, CARE warns Oslo conference

'Women and girls are vital actors and powerful agents of change in crises.'

Oslo, Norway -- CARE International challenged global leaders to commit long-term, predictable funding mechanisms for the protection of women from gender-based violence and abuse during crises and conflicts.

Welcoming delegates to the Ending Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Humanitarian Crisis conference in Oslo, CARE’s Secretary General, Caroline Kende-Robb highlighted the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarians, security forces and other actors in positions of power.

Kende-Robb said: “If impunity prevails, there will be little hope for survivors that violence will decrease. We believe in a survivor-centered approach where women and girls are at the center and are driving and shaping the response. Everything we do, particularly in the early stage of an emergency, either heightens exposure or helps mitigate risks of gender-based violence.

“Yet we too often fail to prioritize the protection of those in need. Only about four per cent of all humanitarian spending goes to protection activities and much less is spent on addressing gender-based violence.”

Conflicts and humanitarian crises trigger and exacerbate sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) including rape, sexual slavery, trafficking, forced and early marriage, and intimate partner violence. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by these violations of international law, with severe consequences.

Studies show that, girls and women who experience violence are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, are at increased risk of maternal mortality, and are less likely to complete their education. Violence against women and girls is estimated to cost economies between 1.2 and 3.7 per cent of GDP.

Kende-Robb said: “Women and girls, and their groups, are vital actors and powerful agents of change in crises. Women convene assistance networks, coordinate response and assess humanitarian needs, including the risk of gender-based violence. Yet civil society groups working for gender equality still lack access to the resources they need to unlock their full power”.

At least 67 million women and girls will require humanitarian assistance this year alone. Worryingly, more than a third of all women worldwide – or 35 per cent - have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

“Donors must increase funding for women’s organizations. Women and girls must be recognized and promoted as leaders and decision-makers in key humanitarian spaces and we must invest more in gender equality in humanitarian action,” said Kende Robb.

Long-term, predictable funding for local women and girls’ rights is among the three key factors CARE and others are urging governments to deliver in order to promote gender equality. CARE International is also calling on global leaders to address the sustained backlash against gender equality and women’s human rights as this is threatening some of the hard-won gains of the last two decades.

Other vital steps include ensuring more meaningful participation by women and girls in all decisions that impact their lives.

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Editor’s note:

  • An international pledging conference on Ending Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Humanitarian Crises is taking place in Oslo, Norway, 23-24 May 2019
  • The Government of Canada will be represented at this conference by Kamal Khera, parliamentary secretary for International Development.
  • CARE has brought together more than 40 humanitarian and women’s rights actors with a joint position paper of recommendations on how we can better support women and girls in crisis. Read the recommendations at: care.ca/notoptional

For media inquiries, please contact:

Lama Alsafi
media@care.ca | 613-228-5641