5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Call to Action: Eradicating Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies

High-level panel - Auditorium
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
14:30 to 16:00

Gender-based violence is a pervasive and life-threatening, health, human rights and protection issue which is exacerbated in humanitarian emergencies.

The eradication of gender-based violence is a priority for the EU. This is why the EU (through DG ECHO), took over the leadership of the global multistakeholder initiative 'Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies' (Call to Action) in June 2017, to drive structural change and foster accountability. 

This High-Level Panel Debate will raise awareness on  the need to further prevent, mitigate and respond to gender-based violence in humanitarian crises and discuss the essential aspects of working on GBV in emergencies.  

Organiser: DG ECHO

Photo credit: WFP/ Rein Skullerud

Key points

  • Gender-based violence is a critical issue across the spectrum of humanitarian intervention.
  • As well as repairing physical damage, victims of sexual violence require mental health treatment.
  • Funding needs to be more flexible, as it is less useful when too specific.
  • Beyond responding to emergencies, education and the long-term need to be taken into consideration.


Gender-based violence is not an issue just for specialists, but for all humanitarian actors. Responses have to be integrated, not in the silos of women’s groups.

Women and girls are not a minority; they are half of any displacement and are particularly at risk in emergencies and conflicts: one in five women in humanitarian crises will face gender-based violence. They are often making difficult daily decisions between their security and finding food, so gender sensitive coordination between food and protection agencies is critical.

Food assistance can even lead to gender-based violence. If there is jostling in queues, men are sometimes so angry to see their women touched that they beat them afterwards.

Female interpreters need to be available for interaction and women and girls must not be put into vulnerable situations with unsegregated sanitation services, especially not badly lit and no locking doors. The safety and dignity of refugee women and girls must be ensured at


Many refugees are not asylum seekers; they are just seeking an education and hoping to return to their country as leaders. An online platform could offer learning opportunities to young women everywhere.

Organised by


Sara Pantuliano
Managing Director
Overseas Development Institute
Denis Mukwege
President and Founder, Gynaecologist
Panzi Hospital and Foundation
Linda McAvan
Chair of the Committee on Development
European Parliament
Christos Stylianides
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management
European Commission
Valerie Guarnieri
Assistant Executive Director, Operations Services
UNWFP (United Nations World Food Programme)
Sanjayan Srikanthan
SVP Europe
International Rescue Committee
Bushra Dabbagh
Young Leader - Syria