Humanitarian Action


Refugees empowered by UN Women in Rwanda
Refugee women in Rwanda are getting access to diverse livelihood opportunities through the LEAP programme. (Photo: UN Women Rwanda)

Pre-existing gender-based discrimination and inequalities exacerbate the impact of crises on women and girls as inequality tends to worsen in humanitarian situations. Vulnerabilities such as disability, women-headed households, young women, adolescent girls, older women, and women belonging to indigenous and minority or marginalized groups, can deepen how people are affected and how they recover.

Women and girls are not helpless victims. Humanitarian efforts must recognize the fact that women and girls—like men and boys—have much to contribute in preparing for, and responding to, crises. Women must be included in decision-making about the forms of assistance and protection they need. Humanitarian action can also present opportunities for new and more progressive gender roles and relationships to emerge.

In East and Southern Africa incidences of drought, food insecurity, floods/cyclones, increasing fragility, and desert locusts have affected millions of people, particularly those in marginal areas, displaced into IDPs and refugee camps. Current estimates by humanitarian stakeholders (April 2022) indicate that a total of 33 million people are classified as food insecure (Phase 2), while over 21 million are in crisis mode and in need of humanitarian assistance. The situation is being worsened by skyrocketing food prices due to global shocks including the war in Ukraine. This region is home to over 5 million refugees and asylum seekers and 14 million internally displaced people. COVID- 19 continues to affect millions of people across the region, especially those that lost their sources of income and livelihoods.  

Engendering DRR and Humanitarian Planning, Response, and Recovery Frameworks

We are engendering disaster risk reduction (DRR) and humanitarian planning, response, and recovery frameworks at regional and national levels. This includes integrating gender into humanitarian needs overviews, response plans (Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan), disaster risk management policies and strategies (Kenya), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development regional resilience framework, and others.

We carry out capacity development of stakeholders on Gender in Humanitarian Action (GiHA) targeting UN Women staff, UN entities, humanitarian country teams, international non-governmental organizations, women’s organizations, and government representatives.

There is advocacy and production of knowledge products and tools such as the GiHA pocket guide, a training manual on women’s participation and leadership in humanitarian action, and a Gender Mainstreaming Guideline for Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Regional level advocacy includes forums such as the African Union Africa Regional Platform for DRR that brings together policymakers and practitioners in DRR and where commitments are made by Member States Ministers.

Women's Leadership, Empowerment, Access and Protection (LEAP)

Disasters affect women more owing to a multiplicity of factors including access to resources (land, credit, technology) as well as loss of livelihoods. COVID-19 threatens to erode gains made on empowerment of women. To build sustainable resilience among affected populations in Uganda and Somalia through the Japanese-funded Leadership, Empowerment Access and Protection Program, UN Women is supporting over 7,000 women refugees and host community members access diverse livelihood opportunities such as credit facilities. Beneficiaries are able to meet their household and basic personal needs.

UN Women Somalia, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development (MoWHRD) and Ministries of Women launch two research studies
UN Women Somalia, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development (MoWHRD) and Ministries of Women, Jubaland and South West State launched two research studies focused on gender, climate and conflict analysis, and market assessments of micro-business opportunities at a high level event in Mogadishu on 30 March, 2022: “Gender, climate and conflict analysis in Somalia and assessment of opportunities for climate agriculture and livelihood opportunities for crisis-affected an at risk women in Somalia” and “Market assessment of microbusiness opportunities for women in IDP communities and their host communities in Jubaland and South West Somalia”. Learn more
Norwegian Deputy Minister of International Development visits refugees in Adjumani, Uganda
The Norwegian Deputy Minister of International Development, Ms. Bjørg Sandkjær, has called for integration of peace and security in Climate Smart and sustainable energy to find sustainable solutions which address the needs of women facing energy crises. Ms. Bjørg Sandkjær made the remarks during a field mission to UN Women supported programs in Adjumani district, Uganda. Learn more
Transforming Lives of Women in Drought-affected Jubaland with Livelihood Trainings and Opportunities for Women
A farming equipment and seed distribution organized by the Ministry of Women and CARE International with the support of UN Women in Kismayo, Jubaland celebrated women transforming their lives through the LEAP project, funded by the Government of Japan. Women beneficiaries shared the experiences of how their lives have changed in the drought and conflict-affected state. Learn more