Irish Aid – GBV prevention and response efforts

GBV prevention and response efforts: from policy to action at the local level.

Preventing and responding to GBV is a core priority of the Irish Aid programme, and is at the centre of its work to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Ireland’s policy on international development, ‘One World, One Future’ (2013), recognises that GBV is a major abuse of human rights which undermines victims’ health, well-being and livelihoods.  Ireland’s Humanitarian Assistance Policy (2015) reiterates Ireland’s commitment to addressing GBV and recognises the particular vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls in emergencies, noting that attention to gender must be an essential part of every humanitarian operation. Ireland is committed to continuing to play an active role in research, policy development and funding to address GBV.

Irish Aid works closely with civil society organisations and governments on GBV issues in many of our key partner countries. At a global level, Ireland supports the UN Women-administered Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. The Government of Ireland engages in international advocacy to raise awareness on gender equality and the importance of protecting women and children in emergencies. For example, Ireland is a member of the Call to Action and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade plays a lead co-ordination role in the implementation of Ireland’s Second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

One important piece of work in recent years has been the effort by humanitarian actors to challenge the myth that GBV is an unavoidable part of conflict, thereby ensuring that efforts to tackle it are put in place. Important learnings from our partnership with the International Rescue Committee have fed into flagship advocacy reports such as “Are we there yet?” This paper has been used in key international fora, including at a 2015 EU Council working party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) meeting. The paper helped to advise Member States on the importance of preventing and responding to GBV in emergencies; and in advocacy efforts to engage EU countries to join the Call to Action. The Government of Ireland played a prominent role in ensuring the views of Irish humanitarian stakeholders were considered in the World Humanitarian Summit, advocating for the inclusion of women and girls as a standalone outcome.

Other aspects of Irish Aid’s efforts in this area focus on targeted funding for NGO programming on GBV in emergencies and deployments of specialised gender and protection capacity – through Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps, Gender Standby Capacity Project and Protection Standby Capacity Project. We work with a range of government and civil society partners at community, national and international level to tackle both the causes and the effects of GBV, and to ensure that policies are in place and are implemented. Our work aims to build awareness of the rights of women and expand women’s engagement in the economic, social and political spheres.  It also seeks to engage men and boys on gender related issues.

We also support organisations that help survivors of GBV. For example, we provide funding directly to the members of the Irish Consortium on Gender-Based Violence who operate GBV related programmes in over 45 countries, as well as supporting response and prevention work through our strategic multi-annual partnership with the International Rescue Committee.

Irish Aid, through its partnership with NGOs, supports community-based approaches, where women and girls play a key role in the design of GBV interventions, while at the same time building the skills, knowledge and capacity of local actors and early responders in GBV preparedness and response techniques.  Such work includes community- led advocacy work, awareness raising and identification of community safeguards to increase safety and security for women and girls. Response activities, for example those implemented by the International Rescue Committee, ensure the establishment of GBV survivor-centred services within the community. These services include identification of safe spaces for survivors and mapping of referral pathways and protection services so survivors are informed on the best course of action available to them. It also includes training of health professionals so they can correctly respond to the needs of GBV survivors, and the provision of case management and psychosocial support services to help survivors with their overall wellbeing.