Call to Action Progress Reports Briefing Note, September 2014

A Call to Action on protection from GBV in emergencies
Progress Briefing Note
September 2014

Through these commitments, we seek to

  • drive change and foster accountability within the humanitarian system
  • so that every humanitarian response includes the steps necessary to
  • mitigate risks to women and girls from the earliest phases of a crisis, and
  • the provision of safe and comprehensive services for those affected by gender-based violence.

-Call to Action Communiqué

 In January 2014, the United States assumed leadership of Call to Action on protection from gender-based violence in emergencies. Launched in 2013 by the United Kingdom, Call to Action is a ground-breaking initiative in which donors and humanitarian agencies commit to prevent and respond to gender-based violence from the start of humanitarian emergencies. Call to Action provides an important framework to help coordinate efforts with other donors, affected countries, and non-government stakeholders to maximize our impact.

At the 2014 UN General Assembly, the United States is hosting a ministerial level event to highlight Call to Action and progress made since 2013, and to encourage more partners to join this important initiative.

Translating Commitments into Action: Initial Progress Report

Call to Action partners agreed to share progress in order to learn from one another and continue moving forward with this initiative. Partners recently reported on their efforts over the last year to implement their commitments and strengthen humanitarian action. For more information on accomplishments to date under Call to Action, please see executive summaries from partner reports at // The following are some highlights from those reports.

Being prepared and having the right tools and mechanisms to implement the right programs

  • Technical toolkits and guides are being developed by a number of partners to support targeted humanitarian action on GBV by all sectors and actors, from emergency preparedness through the later stages of an emergency. These are practical user-friendly tools. Of note, the revised Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines on Gender-Based Violence Intervention in Humanitarian Settings will be launched globally in early 2015.
  • Through the Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises, a number of Call to Action partners have come together to work jointly on Call to Action commitments related to early implementation of reproductive health services in emergencies, including prevention and response to sexual violence.
  • Multiple partners are engaged in internal structural, policy, and practice improvements and strategies to strengthen their own contributions to GBV interventions in humanitarian action and to promote increased accountability for those actions.

Having the right people with the right experience and expertise on the ground

  • Training and capacity building for GBV specialists and non-specialists at staff and management levels, international and national, is being undertaken by multiple partners to strengthen organizational capacity and also to grow the pool of well qualified specialists who can be deployed in emergencies. A global Gender-based Violence Area of Responsibility capacity development strategy will be shared in early 2015.
  • A number of partners have established new specialized staff positions to strengthen and monitor emergency programming that mainstreams protection from GBV.
  • Several partners highlighted their work in the field with national/local women’s groups and NGOs as a key strategy for supporting local capacity and ensuring appropriate programming to address this sensitive issue.

Building the evidence base on what works through research and innovation

  • The best ways to improve access for policy makers and practitioners at all levels to relevant research and evidence-based good practice (e.g., through clearinghouses) are being explored by several partners.
  • New research is being undertaken by several partners to build the evidence base on what works.

Common Challenges Reported by Partners

Partners have also identified various challenges in implementing Call to Action commitments. A key theme is relatively low capacity at various levels to meet the magnitude of the needs—needs which have grown in the face of multiple Level 3 humanitarian emergencies. A number of partners have also pointed to the importance of much stronger coordination across donors and service providers in order to minimize duplication, maximize synergies and ensure that gaps are addressed in a coherent fashion. These points further reinforce the importance of partners coming together to develop a detailed action plan for the Call to Action initiative that identifies the priorities that must be addressed, the timetable for doing so, the partners that will take the resourcing and programming forward and the methods for measuring results.

Next Steps

The United States is working closely with a wide range of civil society, States and international organization leadership to continue to build on the progress made so far and establish a framework for accountability and action. To achieve a strategic road map, the Women’s Refugee Commission is working with the U.S. government to facilitate the road-mapping process. Specifically, the following activities are planned for the coming months:

  • Continued outreach to governments and other partners to strengthen Call to Action
  • Drafting a detailed action plan/road map in consultation with partners
  • One year follow-on technical workshop in November 2014
  • Visits to field sites to discuss the road map and gather inputs

For more information

Web site //

(Report compiled by the Women's Refugee Commission under its partnership with the U.S. government on Call to Action for protection from GBV in emergencies.)