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The already grave humanitarian situation caused by the 18-month-long blockade of the Gaza Strip was compounded by Israel’s 23-day military offensive in December, 2008 and January, 2009. The war led to the displacement of an estimated 100,000 people at the height of the conflict, the death of 1,366 people, amongst them 430 children and 111 women, and the injury of over 5,380 people, including 1,870 children and 800 women. The large-scale internal displacement of civilians was made more traumatic by the fact that civilians could neither leave the field of war, nor find secure and safe haven from aerial bombardment, even in United Nations installations. Public infrastructure and essential services already strained as a result of the blockade have worsened due to the damage resulting from the war. The dramatic deterioration of the Gaza Strip has further worsened conditions for its inhabitants, both in terms of material losses and psychological distress caused by the violence.

The social and economic repercussions of this state of crisis are spread across all sectors of Gazan society, but are also mediated by men and women’s gender roles and identities. Paying attention to gender issues or putting on a gender lens means recognizing the different needs, capacities and contributions of women, girls, boys and men, shaped by their different gender roles and responsibilities. Ignoring or being blind to these differences can mean that the specific needs of some segments of the population are overlooked or that issues that have implications for the whole society are ignored, sometimes with destructive consequences. In the rush to provide humanitarian assistance, the appeal to pay attention to gender issues may seem irrelevant. However, it is crucial to ensure that the most necessary and appropriate assistance is offered across the population and to the population as a whole.

The main framework for this guidebook is built on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender Handbook on Humanitarian Action: Women, Girls, Boys and Men - Different Needs, Equal Opportunities.* Main concepts and relevant frameworks from the IASC handbook were adapted to the context of the Gaza emergency using two main bodies of data. The first is the findings of the gender needs assessment survey, Voicing the Needs of Women and Men in Gaza, conducted by the UN Inter-Agency Gender Task Force in March, 2009. Main issues that arose from that survey were subsequently fleshed out in a series of focus group discussions with men, women, boys and girls in various communities in Gaza in April and May, 2009, organized by UNIFEM. The findings of the focus groups form the core of the data addressed in this guidebook. The guidebook sets forth standards for the integration of gender issues from the outset of a complex emergency. It aims to enable humanitarian services to reach their target audience with the maximum positive effect while minimizing exacerbation or inadvertent exposure to risk.


This guidebook aims to provide actors in Gaza with guidance on gender analysis, planning and actions to ensure that the needs, contributions and capacities of women, girls, boys and men are considered in all aspects of humanitarian response. It also offers checklists to assist in monitoring gender equality programming. The guidelines focus on major cross-cutting issues and areas of work in the early response phase of emergencies. The guidebook is also a useful tool to make sure gender issues are included in needs assessments, contingency planning and evaluations. It can be used as a tool to mainstream gender as a cross-cutting issue within sectors/clusters. If used correctly, this guidebook will help promote the ultimate goal of protecting and promoting the human rights of women, girls, boys and men in the context of humanitarian action as well as advance the goal of gender equality. The phrase “women, girls, boys and men” as used throughout this guidebook refers to young and old across the life cycle.


The target audience for this guidebook are field practitioners responding to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In particular, the guidebook targets sector/cluster actors. The Humanitarian Country Team, Humanitarian Coordinator and others in leadership positions will also benefit from the handbook as it provides guidance on how to analyze the situation from a gender perspective, implement gender-sensitive activities and measure effectiveness. The guidebook will also assist donors in holding humanitarian actors accountable for integrating gender perspectives and promoting equality in all aspects of their work.


This guidebook is divided into two main sections: The first section includes the Basics of Gender in Crisis and sets forth the overarching framework of gender equality programming in humanitarian action. It defines terms and explains the relevance of gender equality in crisis situations.

The second section provides sector- and cluster-specific guidance. UNIFEM, OCHA and GenCap Adviser in the oPt have organized consultative meetings with the humanitarian sector/clusters, international NGOs and the UN Gender Task Force in Jerusalem and Gaza to comment on the draft of these chapters. Each was also asked to develop the specific actions proposed to ensure gender equality programming in their sectoral area of responsibility.

Each chapter is divided into the following parts:

IntroductionA brief overview of gender issues related to the sector.
Gender AnalysisA series of questions on what to look for or ask so that programmes are designed and implemented with sensitivity to the different needs of women, girls, boys and men.
ActionsSpecific actions to ensure gender equality programming
ChecklistA checklist for monitoring gender equality programming. The checklists are derived from the actions section in each chapter, and are useful tools to remind humanitarian actors of key issues to ensure gender equality programming. In addition, the checklists, together with the sample indicators in the Basics of Gender in Crisis chapter, serve as a basis for project staff to develop contextspecific indicators to measure their progress in incorporating gender issues into humanitarian action

Complete document in PDF format (Requires Acrobat Reader)
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