Emergency Response

The number of humanitarian emergencies around the globe are increasing at an alarming rate. Natural disasters caused by climate change, economic collapse, new and ongoing conflicts, and health crises like COVID-19 have led to an overwhelming need for humanitarian assistance.

Women at the centre of emergency response

In addition to other vulnerabilities like disability and sexual orientation, gender greatly affects how people experience crises. Gender inequality means that women and girls are among the most vulnerable during emergencies. Their health and safety are at greater risk, they are often first to lose their means of income when economies suffer, and they eat last or least when food is scarce.

Despite the challenges they face, women are also on the front lines of emergency response—as caregivers, health care providers and more, yet they are often left out of decision-making. When women’s leadership is recognized and they are able to have a say in decisions that affect them, emergency response is most effective immediately and over the long term—not just for women themselves but for entire communities.

Participants in CARE's Women Lead In Emergencies initiative in the Kyangwali Refugee settlement in Uganda. Ekinu Robert/CARE
Participants in CARE’s Women Lead In Emergencies initiative in the Kyangwali Refugee settlement in Uganda. Ekinu Robert/CARE

How we respond to emergencies

CARE’s response to emergencies recognizes that emergencies both increase existing inequalities and present opportunities for transformative change when the barriers women face are removed and traditional gender roles are challenged. In a crisis, we work to ensure everyone’s voices are heard, and in particular, that women and girls are meaningfully engaged, listened to and that we act on their priorities.

Humanitarian emergencies are complex and multi-layered. CARE’s humanitarian work is made up of both response and resilience initiatives, meaning we respond to immediate needs and help communities be more resilient to future crises. CARE continues to play a central role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic—with the largest emergency response in our 75-year history. We ensure we take into account the realities of COVID-19 in the places where we work and integrate prevention and support in all that we do.

CARE works with communities around the world to prepare for and minimize the impact of disasters on women, girls and their families. When an emergency hits, we deploy emergency response staff and work with local partners—including women’s rights and women-led organizations— to provide immediate assistance. Initial support can mean providing food, water, shelter, health care, hygiene items, cash support, counselling and setting up safe spaces for women and girls. More long-term support may mean setting up savings groups so women can borrow and lend money to each other and save for future shocks, for example.

At the same time, CARE Canada often launches emergency appeals within Canada to raise funds for those the people affected, often with members of Canada’s Humanitarian Coalition. We support communities—especially women and children—so they can recover after a crisis. We often work towards long-term recovery in partnership with local partners and those affected as they who know best what they need. Communities are then better equipped to withstand future emergencies.

Emergencies that need your support