Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in humanitarian crises is a global problem. Around 140 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and it is estimated that 35 million of them are women and girls of fertile age. Although women are particularly vulnerable, boys and men are also subjected to this kind of horrific abuse.
"Until now, there has been too little political will to address sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises, and the response has been critically underfunded. We must improve steps to prevent abuse and the way we help victims, and we must ensure that many more people are punished for these crimes. This is why the Norwegian Government is hosting an international conference with the aim of strengthening political commitments and mobilising additional funding for efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises," said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
More than 90 countries are taking part in the conference on 24 May, and civil society representatives from all parts of the world are also attending. Other participants include Dr Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a number of government ministers and several high-level UN representatives. Norway is organising the conference in cooperation with the UN, Iraq, Somalia, the United Arab Emirates and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Norway’s ambition is to generate worldwide support for the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. The fact that so many parties are involved in the organisation of the conference and the high level of interest it has attracted show that we are well on the way to achieving this. We are also taking an innovative approach by organising a thematic conference on one specific issue. Thematic donor conferences tend to cover a particular country or region, but the need for political awareness and financial support to respond to sexual and gender-based violence requires a new approach," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Experience gained from efforts to combat SGBV in humanitarian crises has shown that for prevention and treatment to be successful, the people who are directly affected must be given an opportunity to take part in the response and define their own needs.
"We must put the survivors at the heart of the response and listen to what they say they need. This is a an approach that is highlighted in Norway’s new humanitarian strategy, and is particularly important in efforts to protect people against sexual and gender-based violence," said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
How will the funding be used?
Norway is to allocate NOK 1 billion to efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises in the period 2019 to 2021. In 2019, the Government has earmarked NOK 350 million for this purpose.
The Government will among other things use the funding to:
- Substantially increase support for the efforts of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to combat sexual and gender-based violence. More specifically, this includes support for anti-SGBV work in 14 humanitarian crises, and funding to allow the Movement to improve its expertise and capacity in this field. In particular, this will strengthen the national Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies and thus also national ownership of the humanitarian response.
- More than treble Norway’s contribution to emergency standby rosters, compared with the level of funding in previous years. This support is intended to make it possible to send SGBV experts to humanitarian crises in all parts of the world. This will improve both the capacity to deal with SGBV-related challenges and the quality of the response.
- Make a substantial non-earmarked contribution to UNFPA’s Humanitarian Action Thematic Fund. This will provide the flexibility needed to enable UNFPA to respond rapidly to new and ongoing crises across the world.
- Continue the Government’s close cooperation with Norwegian humanitarian organisations and support the work they carry out at country level in cooperation with local partners.
- Provide substantial support to the efforts of Norwegian and local humanitarian organisations to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
Norway’s efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises are based on the Government’s humanitarian strategy that was launched in 2018.
You can follow the conference ‘Ending Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Humanitarian Crises’ directly on web TV here: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/sgbv_tv/id2644067/.
The conference will be officially opened by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide will take part in several of the sessions, including a dialogue with Dr Mukwege. After this event, Ms Eriksen Søreide and Dr Mukwege will be available for the press.
After the conference on 24 May, updated press information will be published summarising the political and financial commitments made during the event.