Call to Action
on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies
The Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (Call to Action) is a multi-stakeholder initiative launched in 2013 by the United Kingdom and Sweden that aims to fundamentally transform the way gender-based violence (GBV) is addressed in humanitarian emergencies. The Call to Action Road Map 2016–2020 is the operational framework for the initiative and is based on the collective action of governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The goal of the Call to Action is to drive change and foster accountability within the humanitarian sphere so that every humanitarian effort includes the policies, systems, and mechanisms necessary to mitigate GBV risks, especially violence against women and girls, from the earliest phases of a crisis, and to provide safe and comprehensive services for those affected by GBV.
Every actor engaged in humanitarian response has an obligation to act – to take all possible measures to keep people safe and to help survivors of GBV rebuild their lives. The commitment to act and to hold ourselves accountable for action is what binds us together under the Call to Action.
GBV is a pervasive and life-threatening health, human rights, and protection issue. Deeply rooted in gender inequality and norms that disempower and discriminate, GBV is exacerbated in humanitarian emergencies. Vicious and unacceptable, GBV is a reality of everyday life for those affected by conflict and disasters. Yet prevention of and response to GBV is still not treated as a priority from the earliest stages of emergencies and humanitarian responses lack sufficient mechanisms – funding, policy, and systems – to ensure that the issue is comprehensively addressed.
This inaction represents a failure on the part of humanitarians to promote, respect and protect the rights of affected populations – particularly women and girls – to take all possible measures to keep people safe and to help survivors of GBV rebuild their lives.
The time to act is now. Maintaining the status quo is not an option.
Every state, donor, and organisation can have a role in the Call to Action and become a partner.
A Call to Action partner agrees to make concrete, measurable commitments to achieving the outcomes outlined the Road Map and to reporting annually on those commitments. The Call to Action Road Map 2016-2020 is the operational framework for the Call to Action initiative and outlines concrete steps all humanitarian stakeholders can take over the next five years to build this change into the policies, systems, and mechanisms we use to respond to emergencies. The Road Map is a time-bound and measurable operational framework established to ensure that pledges are translated into concrete and targeted actions on the ground.
A Call to Action partner is requested to:
- Formally endorse the Call to Action goal and the Road Map. See partner letter template.
- Make two commitments to achieving the outcomes outlined the Road Map. At least one of these commitments must be linked to outcome 1 (organisational/institutional policies). These actions are drafted by the partners themselves. See template for commitments.
- Annually report on progress towards the commitments. See reporting template.
- Designate a Call to Action focal point.
- Support certain partner activities during the year, as resources allow (e.g. participate in the working group calls, technical meetings).
Please note that there is no requirement to fund new projects or programmes.
In order to become a partner, fill in the letter and the template for commitments and send them to the current Lead of the Call to Action.
The initiative invites governments, donors, international organisations, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), national civil society, women’s organisations, and the private sector to join the Call to Action. By working together and holding one another mutually accountable, Call to Action partners can make a fundamental and lasting difference in the way GBV is addressed in humanitarian responses.
Each stakeholder has unique strengths and capacities, and by coordinating action and working together, we can provide better protection from GBV to the people we serve. The strength of the Call to Action lies in the diversity of its stakeholders. We need your expertise.
For further information, please send an email to email@example.com.
Our partners have identified six Outcomes – or results – that the Call to Action will achieve in the next five years. Collective achievement of these Outcomes will address the key problem areas and bring us closer to realising our objectives and, ultimately, the goal of the Call to Action.
Outcome 1. Humanitarian actors adopt and implement
institutional policies and standards to strengthen gender
equality, prevent and respond to GBV, and enhance
accountability for taking action.
Outcome 2. All levels within the humanitarian
architecture promote effective and accountable interagency/
inter-sectoral GBV leadership and coordination.
Outcome 3. Needs assessments, analyses, and planning
processes support effective and accountable integration
of GBV prevention and response and gender equality into
humanitarian response efforts.
Outcome 4. Funding is available for GBV prevention
and response for each phase of an emergency, from
preparedness and crisis onset through transition to
Outcome 5. Specialised GBV prevention and response
services are implemented in each phase of an emergency,
from preparedness and crisis onset through transition to
Outcome 6. Those managing and leading humanitarian
operations have and apply the knowledge and skills
needed to foster gender equality and reduce and mitigate
Partners will make new commitments for action, or revise existing commitments, by selecting from the Outcomes and Key Action Areas outlined in the Road Map.
The Lead, with support from the Steering Committee, will organise a process for gathering, compiling, and reviewing partners’ commitments under this Road Map. The process includes:
» Partners in each of the Stakeholder Working Groups declaring and discussing their individual commitments with a view toward synergies, duplications, and gaps.
» The Steering Committee looking at all of the commitments together, by Outcomes and Priority Actions, to see the complete picture and identify gaps or duplications. The Committee may hold follow-up discussions with partners as needed either through one-on-one or ad hoc Stakeholder Working Group meetings. The Lead will compile and distribute to partners a consolidated set of these commitments to the Road Map, organized by Road Map Outcomes and Key Action Areas.
The consolidated commitments document then becomes the companion document to this Road Map.
The consolidated commitments document is subject to change to account for new partners, commitments, and partner achievements on previous commitments.
An annual partner review of the Road Map and commitments, through partner reports and the annual meeting, will be undertaken to mark progress and make changes as partners deem appropriate.
To achieve our goal and objectives, it is vital to bring additional partners into the initiative, particularly governments and organizations in conflict-affected and disaster-prone areas.
The monitoring framework for the five-year Road Map measures progress by 1) monitoring actions taken in the Key Action Areas and 2) measuring specific indicators to monitor progress in achieving the Outcomes. Together, these two monitoring systems will show how we are doing as a collective in achieving the aims of this Road Map.
Partners monitor and report on their commitments to take action under the Key Action Areas through annual partner reports and discussions among partners during teleconferences and meetings. This will be a source of information about overall progress and will ensure that all efforts by partners are captured.
The Call to Action was formally launched by the United Kingdom and Sweden in 2013. In 2014, the United States assumed leadership and started developing the Call to Action Road Map. The strategic ‘road mapping’ process was led by the Women’s Refugee Commission. During the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 (UNGA70), the US, as then-Lead of the Call to Action, arranged a side event, hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, which included the unveiling of the Call to Action Road Map and the handover of the Call to Action leadership to Sweden.
In January 2016, Sweden assumed leadership of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies. Support to women in humanitarian crises is a central issue for Sweden. Sweden is the first country to pursue a feminist foreign policy, which aims to ensure equal opportunities for women and men to shape their societies and lives. As current Lead of the Call to Action, Sweden is pushing for integration of gender equality, a gender perspective and measures against gender-based violence to be incorporated into the humanitarian reform process and for more countries, international organisations and civil society organisations to turn their commitments into concrete action.
For more information on Sweden’s feminist foreign policy please visit the website.
For more information on Sweden’s humanitarian aid please visit the website:
The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) produced a large number of commitments on gender equality in humanitarian action and created important momentum over time. The main outcomes of the high-level leaders’ roundtables at the WHS, entitled , featured commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment in humanitarian action. It emphasised the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment as a rights based approach, in line with the , One Humanity: Shared Responsibility (2016).
from the roundtable focused on implementing a coordinated global approach to preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) in crisis contexts, including through the Call to Action initiative. To this end, Member States and humanitarian actors had to leverage the Call to Action initiative.
During the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016, Sweden hosted a side event entitled ‘A Call to Action for addressing Gender-based Violence in Emergencies: leadership, tools and practice’ together with the UK, UNFPA, UNICEF, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Oxfam. The side event provided an opportunity to move forward with the implementation of the WHS’s Core Commitment 3 from The High-Level Leaders’ Roundtable on Women and Girls and to reflect on the collective challenges and solutions to improving humanitarian prevention and response to GBV in emergencies. See the full side event report.
At the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA71) in September 2016, Sweden, as current lead, hosted another side event together with UN OCHA and the IRC on the Call to Action and how we can turn the WHS commitments into action. The discussion mainly focused on the work of, and support to, local actors and the issue of being able to measure results of the work of protecting women in emergencies. The side event can be viewed here .
The signatories below have endorsed the Call to Action Communiqué and/or made specific commitments to act, as of October 2016. It is hoped that others will add their names to this list.
United States of America
|European Commission, Humanitarian Aid and Civil protection (ECHO)
Gender-based Violence Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR)International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements (IFRC)International Organisation for Migration (IOM)The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA)United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO)
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations World Food Program (WFP)
United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO)
American Refugee Committee
Heartland Alliance International
International Medical Corps (IMC)
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Legal Action Worldwide (LAW)
Marie Stopes International (MSI)
NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
Refugees International (RI)
Save the Children
War Child Canada/UK
Women Empowerment Organisation (WEO)
Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC)
World Vision International
The following link is attached: http://www.sida.se/English/how-we-work/our-fields-of-work/humanitarian-aid1/