In 2004, a group of Irish human rights, humanitarian and development agencies, together with Irish Aid (Within the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade of the Irish government.) joined forces to discuss how best to respond to reports of very high levels of rape in the conflict in Darfur, Sudan. During those discussions, it was recognised that responses to gender based violence (GBV) by the international community were, for the most part, isolated and ad-hoc and that there was a pressing need for the issue to be addressed in a more comprehensive and systematic manner.
Subsequently, these organisations and others joined together to establish the Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence with a view to promoting the adoption of a coherent and coordinated response to GBV.
- To ensure that actions to prevent and respond to gender based violence are visible and systematically addressed in the policies, procedures and programmes of all member agencies.
- To develop and strengthen skills and capacities of member organisations for more effective prevention of, and response to, gender based violence, at programme level.
- To inform, effect and monitor policy implementation to improve actions on prevention of and response to gender based violence.
The Consortium is led by a steering committee of representatives from each member agency. A chairperson is elected and one agency takes responsibility for administration on an annual basis. The chairperson for 2014 is Rosamond Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland. Member agencies share the costs involved in the various projects the Consortium undertakes.
The Consortium focuses on two areas: Learning and Practice, led by the Learning and Practice Working Group and Advocacy, which is the responsibility of all member agencies.
The Learning and Practice Working Group focuses on identifying and sharing best practice in terms of responses to GBV at organisational and programme level.
Through its advocacy work, the Consortium takes a pro-active role in raising awareness of the problem of GBV and highlighting GBV abuses in order to bring about real improvement and change.
A number of gender consultants are contracted on an occasional basis to assist with specific Consortium projects.
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is Advisor to the Consortium and reviews its progress on an annual basis.
In addition to the bulk of its work with member agencies, the Consortium has also undertaken a number of public and inter-organizational initiatives to raise awareness of GBV. These have included producing publications, hosting exhibitions, participating in international campaigns and organizing workshops & training sessions.