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The Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies: an assessment of the role of collective approaches

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Gemma Davies, Alexandra Spencer

The Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (CtA) was launched in 2013 by concerned donor governments to bring increased awareness to the appalling levels of gender-based violence (GBV) experienced, particularly by women and girls, in crises. It was catalysed by the rising political attention being paid at that time to the use of rape as a weapon of war in contexts such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur and Myanmar.

This high-level political initiative has effectively pushed recognition among states and donors, the United Nations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), international organisations and local actors that prevention and response to GBV is a life-saving activity that should be considered as a priority at the outset of a crisis and implemented through a multi-disciplinary approach by all actors involved in humanitarian crises.

The CtA demonstrates how strong mobilisation, high-level leadership and a comprehensive effort involving a diverse range of actors can effectively shape approaches to prevent and respond to GBV. However, some interviewees suggest that the focus on raising global awareness of GBV in crises came at the cost of grounding the priorities of the CtA in the realities of people affected by GBV.

This briefing note forms part of HPG’s project ‘Advocating for humanity: securing better protection outcomes for conflict-affected people’. This project explores the practice of advocacy by international humanitarian actors and offers recommendations for strengthening this core aspect of humanitarian action. The briefing note is based on a rapid review of available literature and interviews with 10 key stakeholders.