National Society

Sharonya Sekhar
Policy Advisor, International Operations
Canadian Red Cross


The Canadian Red Cross has been focusing on the specific articles within the resolution, listed below:

25) Calls upon States, National Societies, the International Federation and other relevant humanitarian and development stakeholders to ensure that their disaster- and emergency-management plans and activities include measures to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in accordance with their respective mandates, such as putting in place specific training for relevant emergency- and disaster-response personnel, including the participation of women in disaster- and emergency-response teams, and engaging community members, in particular women, in decision-making about disaster risk management;

31) Calls upon the components of the Movement, in accordance with their respective mandates and institutional focuses, to make every possible effort to make capacity-building on preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence one of their priorities, including by specifically training their relevant staff and volunteers at all levels, coordinating and cooperating with each other in line with their respective mandates and roles within the Movement, and exchanging experiences and good practices as appropriate;

32) Also calls upon all components of the Movement to adopt and enforce zero-tolerance policies on sexual exploitation and abuse of beneficiaries by their staff and volunteers, and subject these individuals to sanctions for their actions;

33) Further calls upon the components of the Movement, in accordance with their respective mandates, to make every effort to support, where and when appropriate, the development and strengthening of the capacity of national institutions to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, and to invest in training and strengthening local expertise and in community-based initiatives;

Please see the list of activities the CRC has undertaken:

Internal systems
• New International Operations Strategy 2020 includes Protection, Gender and Community Engagement as cross-cutting themes that each includes elements of prevention and response to SGBV.
• Human Resource prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) systems for the screening, selection, and training of personnel.
• The CRC is in the process of developing a new Gender and Diversity policy through conducting a gender audit with the aim of adopting and implementing institutional policies and standards to strengthen gender equality, prevention and response to SGBV and to enhance accountability mechanisms.
• Conducted internal learning reflection on inclusion of SGBV prevention and response within international emergency and DRR projects.
• We have mainstreamed into all our proposals and program implementation plans the intention to uphold the ‘do no harm’ principle, strengthened provisions around the SGBV, Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), inclusion of Codes of Conduct and reference to Child Protection.

Operations in Canada
• Inclusion within domestic violence prevention programming in schools across the country that reach over 700,000 children, adolescents, and adults each year. Topic areas include prevention and response to sexual, physical and psychological abuse and bullying of children and adolescents.
• A specific project is the CRC Healthy Youth Relationships program which is an educational program for students in middle and high school. It offers young people the knowledge and skills to develop healthy relationships and prevent relationship violence. The goal of this program is to develop youth’s self-awareness and skills in decision making, communication, conflict management, empathy, critical thinking, and social action to promote healthy relationships. Topics covered in this training include dating violence (sexual, physical and emotional) and conversations around consent. This past fiscal year (2016-17), 108,190 people have been educated through the Healthy Youth Relations program.

International emergencies
• CRC is currently working on the development of a new delegate position on Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI). PGI delegates would deploy to specifically support the deployment of our Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and among priorities ensure that SGBV cases are better identified and addressed and that all aspects of dignity, access, participation and safety for the affected people we serve are respected.
• We ensure our Psycho-Social (PSS) delegates train volunteers to provide affected people with support for dealing with SGBV where possible.
• Trainings for CRC disaster first responders and delegates such as IMPACT, ERU Health, Operations Managers, and Communications, etc.; although more depth and more time is required in the future.
• CRC hosted a five-day Psychosocial and Protection training for delegates in January 2017 that included personnel from domestic and international CRC programs and from several other National Societies.

Operations in partnership with other National Societies
• CRC alongside IFRC and other Partner National Societies supported the first regional Seven Moves French language training in Abidjan in November 2016.
• We are advocating for the adoption of Codes of Conduct by our partner National Societies and promoting that these be part of their institutional development processes. Furthermore, we continue to emphasize that the principle of ‘do no harm’ be central to all programming efforts.
• Gender barrier analyses conducted for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) programming funded by the CRC;
• Planned integration within several upcoming bi-lateral projects with partner National Societies such as in Nepal, Philippines, South Sudan, Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.
• SGBV is included within current bi-lateral projects, or those concluding in early 2017, in partnership with National Societies including Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

Partnership with the IFRC and ICRC
• CRC funds a DRR project in South East Asia that includes a Gender and Diversity delegate that is supporting National Societies to include prevention and response to SGBV in their DRR programming.
• CRC seconds a staff person, and helps to fund, the IFRC Child Protection Advisor; this role includes a focus on prevention and response to SGBV against girls and boys, including within emergencies.
• We participated in the SGBV workshop held in Beirut, Lebanon in October 2016, with a view of working alongside Movement actors to identify best practices for the prevention and response of SGBV and to support the development of a new Movement SGBV training module.

• CRC strongly advocated with the Government of Canada to include SGBV prevention and response alongside Child Protection as key issues in both the new international assistance policy and defense policy reviews that convened stakeholders across the spectrum. We are pleased that the Government has just released a new feminist foreign assistance policy which places SGBV and the empowerment of women and girls front and center.
• Participating in Canadian working groups that include a focus on prevention and response to SGBV in international programming: Women, Peace and Security Network and the Child Protection Working Group.
• CRC participated in the launch of IASC’s Gender Based Violence Guidelines and Training organized the Humanitarian Response Network of Canada in Montreal last January 2016.

There are several challenges that we alongside our National Society partners face when implementing this resolution:

• There remain huge challenges in getting victims of SGBV to come forward and report – as there is still significant stigma around rape and SGBV in general for all groups (women, girls, men and boys). There are some affected people who come forward to report symptoms such as stomach pain, urinary tract infections etc. but do not explicitly mention SGBV. We need to better identify those who need support while also working to reduce the stigma of coming forward so that assistance can be provided to those who need it. More female staff and volunteers within National Societies may also influence more women feeling safe to disclose SGBV instances.
• SGBV is often not prioritized especially during an emergency response which is a challenge.
• We have faced the reluctance of some partners to acknowledge the extent of SGBV issues within a context and therefore reluctance to prioritize this issue as it is still deeply stigmatized in many places. Furthermore, not all partners recognize preventing and addressing SGBV as part of the Movement’s or a National Society’s mandate believing this is rather an issue for governments to address. This has been coupled with security concerns and a lack of support for those who do want to work on these issues (both staff and volunteers).
• There remains a lack of awareness that prevention and response to SGBV is an essential intervention in emergencies, it is too frequently seen as an “add-on” or “nice to have” but not as important as other interventions.
• Basic tools like for inclusion in assessments, project design, monitoring and evaluations are lacking.
• In some regions, there is no one in the IFRC clearly responsible for technical and strategic support for the prevention and response to SGBV. This makes it difficult to support regional initiatives or to provide ongoing, predictable support to National Societies. It means that PNS’s provide more direct support but that can come with more caveats than if it is supported by IFRC.
• SGBV is rarely built into IFRC Emergency Response Assessments or Plans of Action (although it is often a problem and threatens the safety of women, men, girls and boys); this makes it more difficult for National Societies to replicate within their own National Societies or to fund specific SGBV prevention and response activities within IFRC or ICRC.
• IFRC and ICRC training resources designed for National Societies need to be made more accessible, such as through online platforms that do not solely rely on complex training of trainer models.
• Having a stronger voice from IFRC and ICRC leadership to National Society leaders will help increase awareness about the urgency of addressing the problems and the role National Societies can have.
• More efforts can be put into aligning IFRC themes such as social inclusion, child protection, disability inclusion, education in emergencies, and youth with SGBV prevention and response.
• There continues to be a lack of tracking systems (i.e. databases for volunteers, affected people) to understand the extent or map out the problems. There is also a lack of feedback and accountability systems in many contexts where we work.

Please see below for potential recommendations for your consideration:

• Continue to advocate with the leadership of all National Societies on the importance of SGBV prevention and response, highlighting its strong link to escalating conflict and crises. It should also be communicated that addressing SGBV is part of the essential work of the Movement– that it is rooted firmly within our mandate to work on SGBV and that the problem persists across all contexts – from developed to those facing armed conflict.
• Acknowledge that we face a circular challenge in that SGBV has the potential to escalate or contribute to the start of conflict, while conflict, in turn, can also produce more domestic violence and violence against children feeding into an increase of SGBV.
• Provide support to National Societies so that they can take a greater responsibility for SGBV prevention and response, to firmly root SGBV as an essential part of our humanitarian response programming.
• Support National Societies to learn more about the commitments made by their own governments to reduce SGBV (i.e. commitments to the SDGs, regional frameworks etc.) so they can better advocate and engage in humanitarian diplomacy on this issue.
• Invest in regional focal points who can provide technical and strategic support for SGBV and other key themes like child protection, PSS, education in emergencies, and social inclusion.
• Include and hold accountable SGBV prevention and response into EPOAs and emergency response implementation and monitoring.
• Provide a stronger leadership voice from IFRC and ICRC to National Society leadership on the prevention and response to SGBV.
• Improve the evidence-base of what works or not among IFRC and ICRC methodologies and tools.
• Have better sharing of innovative solutions within the RCM and adopting solutions from other organizations.
• Make more accessible training, project implementation, and evaluation tools related to SGBV.
• Make available more examples of how prevention and response is complementing and is being aligned with other IFRC Inclusion, Protection and Engagement themes.
• Focus more and promote multi-dimensional approaches such as working towards de-stigmatizing SGBV for women and girls while also working on helping men and boys who have experienced SGBV and who may face even greater obstacles in coming forward.
• Promote better sharing of information across the Movement on best practices to prevent and respond to SGBV. Information can come from both inside the Movement but also from the broader humanitarian and development landscape, to highlight innovative solutions that have been implemented by others (i.e. programs that address community social norms to reduce gender based violence or those that engage men in reducing SGBV).
• Identify opportunities for partnerships within the Movement between all components to better collaborate and harness the strengths of different Movement actors (i.e. piloting ICRCs conditional cash transfer and livelihood programs for survivors of SGBV).