New advocacy effort calls for more effective gender-sensitive humanitarian action and engagement
of girls and women affected by emergencies
14 March 2018, New York, NY – Today, Women Deliver – a leading global advocacy organization
working for gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women – announced
that it will be bolstering its advocacy efforts to drive more concrete action for girls and women in
The effort will leverage Women Deliver’s leadership in global gender equality advocacy to address an
often forgotten reality: that the needs of girls and women are consistently overlooked in
humanitarian action, especially when it comes to their maternal, sexual, and reproductive health
and rights (SRHR). Despite global commitments to prioritize women’s health and rights in
emergencies, less than 1% of humanitarian aid prioritized gender equality significantly in 2014.
Limited collaboration between development and humanitarian organizations contributes to
situations where the basic needs of girls and women are chronically sidelined and left unmet.
“The state of today’s emergencies requires all of us to be more steadfast and unapologetic in our
push for better programs, policies, and investments for girls and women in humanitarian settings,”
said Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver. “That’s why Women Deliver is investing
considerably in the knowledge, capacity, and human resources we need, to be smarter and more
effective advocates for girls and women in these volatile environments.”
Women Deliver’s new effort stems from knowing that development-focused organizations can and
must do more to support gender-sensitive humanitarian action. With generous support from the
Canadian government, Women Deliver is leveraging what the organization already does well –
convening, communicating, advocating, and partnership-building – to drive more meaningful change
for girls and women in emergencies. Whether behind-the-scenes in private meetings or front and
center at the world’s most influential forums, Women Deliver’s new humanitarian team will join
other advocates in pushing for progress in women’s health, rights, and wellbeing, including their
SRHR, in humanitarian settings.
“During my missions abroad, I always take the time to sit down with women that have fled violence
and persecution. We met with women and girls that have experienced unspeakable acts as a result
of sexual and gender-based violence,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of International
Development and La Francophonie. “I know that our partnership with Women Deliver will help to
give a voice to all of those women and girls that are too often forgotten.”
A core component of the initiative is to elevate the voices and help build the capacity of womenfocused
civil society organizations (CSOs) to influence humanitarian decisions that affect their lives.
Examples from Haiti, Afghanistan, and beyond show that women-focused CSOs are often first to
respond when disasters strike, and understand the challenges and opportunities to delivering aid
most effectively. Nevertheless, only 0.2% of humanitarian aid dollars currently funds local CSOs – a
missed opportunity to invest in those with the best local knowledge.
“Women are at the heart of their family’s health, education, wellbeing, and security. They bind and
strengthen their communities, and are the first responders – and our best partner – in times of
crisis,” said Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid, an advocate for maternal, newborn, child, and
adolescent health in humanitarian settings. “Transformative change and bold action is required to
support girls and women, in the hardest of times and in the worst of places, so they can drive peace
and prosperity. I applaud Women Deliver’s bold evolution and welcome them as a strong new ally in
our work to ensure that every woman and every child survives and thrives everywhere.”
The humanitarian initiative was announced by Women Deliver at the UN Headquarters during the
final panel event in a series co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of the United Arab Emirates and
Norway to the United Nations, and moderated by HRH Princess Sarah Zeid, on the actions needed to
address the disproportionate impact of humanitarian emergencies on women, children, adolescents,
and newborns in the next five years. Over 125 participants representing 60 development and
humanitarian organizations and 8 governments attended to discuss what the future of gendersensitive
humanitarian action must look like.
Additional information about the initiative can be found at womendeliver.org/humanitarian.
About Women Deliver: As a leading, global advocate for the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and
women, Women Deliver brings together diverse voices and interests to drive progress for gender
equality, with a particular focus on maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights. We build
capacity, share solutions, and forge partnerships, together creating coalitions, communication, and
action that spark political commitment and investment in girls and women. Women Deliver’s new
humanitarian advocacy aims to enhance action for girls and women in crisis-affected countries, with
a focus on elevating the voices of women-focused organizations in these settings. The humanitarian
program is led by Marcy Hersh, a long-time advocate for girls and women in emergencies and fragile
states, and is made possible by generous contributions from the Government of Canada.
Learn more at womendeliver.org/humanitarian and follow us on Twitter at