Preventing and Mitigating Gender-Based Violence

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is prevalent in all the complex emergencies and natural disasters where IOM works. It is one of the most widespread[1] but least-recognized human rights abuses in the world, affecting individuals and communities everywhere.[2] During a crisis, many factors, including displacement, can exacerbate GBV-related risks.

GBV is preventable. All actors have a role in undertaking specific activities, and interventions must be made in a coordinated manner, in order to prevent and respond to GBV from the earliest stages of an emergency.

Since 2014, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been rolling out a global initiative to mainstream GBV prevention and risk mitigation into emergency preparedness and response programming, specifically into Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), and Shelter and Settlement operations.

As the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster Lead Agency for natural disaster-induced displacement and a significant Shelter responder, IOM has sought to strengthen coordination with GBV specialized actors at global and national levels, as well as increase operational collaboration in field response. IOM is also a core member of the Global Protection Cluster’s GBV Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR) and has actively supported the revision of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action (the ‘GBV Guidelines’, 2015).

IOM’s efforts on GBV mainstreaming stem from the need of front-line field staff, particularly camp managers, to know how to prevent but also safely and ethically respond to GBV incidents and facilitate access to specialized services such as emergency healthcare, particularly clinical management of rape, or psychosocial support.

Since 2014, IOM has trained 971 staff and partners in approximately 20 countries and has also developed capacity building materials, tools and resources to support field colleagues in taking action to prevent GBV and mitigate GBV risks. IOM also currently hosts one of two global GBV Guidelines Training Specialists and participates in the GBV AoR’s inter-agency GBV Guidelines Reference Group, which coordinates the rollout of the revised Guidelines worldwide.

Preventing GBV in the Aftermath of the Ecuador Earthquake

Thousands were displaced by an earthquake in Ecuador in 2016. At the onset of the emergency and during IOM's initial assessments of the displaced population and their needs, an expert on preventing and mitigating GBV accompanied IOM's emergency teams on visits to displacement sites. The national authorities in charge of managing the sites were advised on how to mitigate the risk of GBV. As a result, improvements to the sites were made, including the segregation of latrines for males and females, latrine relocation to well-lit areas and the addition of internal locks in all latrines and washing areas.

IOM established women-friendly spaces in two sites in areas that were the most affected by the earthquake.

Several rapid trainings on GBV and protection mainstreaming in camp-based responses were facilitated for national CCCM actors, IOM DTM teams, the Ministry of Social and Economic Inclusion, UN Peacekeepers, military, local police, UNHCR, UNICEF and UN Women. At least 200 police and military personnel participated in the training in Pedernales. These efforts were also carried forward in Manta, one of the areas worst affected by the earthquake, in coordination with the Ministry of Defense.

Recognizing that a lack of knowledge of camp management standards and risk mitigation guidelines were at the core of GBV risk mitigation gaps in the displacement sites, a five minute video containing key messages was produced to be included in CCCM trainings.

The Way Forward

Preventing and responding to GBV is becoming institutionalized in IOM’s emergency preparedness and response programmes. 

IOM will continue to build the capacity of staff working in emergencies and partners through formal training, mentorship and on-the-job learning, alongside the rollout and adaptation of innovative tools and guidance to specific contexts. IOM will also continue to strengthen coordination and operational collaboration with GBV and other protection specialists to enhance the protective environment of camps and camp-like settings.

To ensure that these efforts become a sustainable, systematic and predictable part of emergency preparedness and response programmes, IOM has begun to develop a GBV in Emergencies Framework. Purposeful assessment and stocktaking of the approach to GBV prevention and response will be pursued as IOM seeks to make a significant contribution to address gaps in GBV programming. 


[1] UNFPA (2008) Gender Equality: Ending Widespread Violence Against Women

[2] WHO and PAHO (2012). Understanding and addressing violence against women. WHO/RHR/12.35