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Course E055: Gender and Humanitarian Action

17 September-28 October 2014 (E05514) | Register for this course (opens in new window)
Instructor: Gretchen Alther

There is increasing recognition that humanitarian crises affect people differently and that there is a need to ensure that the differing needs of men, women, boys and girls are met within humanitarian response. Humanitarian programmes have often neglected to see and address these differences and by doing so neglect to meet the needs of those most affected. Additionally, by failing to address gender, humanitarian responses risk inadvertently making the situation of those affected by crises even worse. Adopting a gender sensitive approach to humanitarian action is essential in ensuring that the differentiated needs of men, women, boys and girls are effectively met.

This e-learning course introduces staff members of (international) development agencies and NGOs to the relevance of gender to humanitarian programming. The course identifies why addressing gender matters in humanitarian response and will make participants familiar with key frameworks underpinning gender mainstreaming approaches. Participants will deepen their knowledge on tools used to ensure programming is gender responsive, such as gender analysis and the basic principles of ensuring equal participation of males and females. It will enable participants to take a close look at specific cluster responses through the use of case studies. One session will be dedicated to assessing responses to gender-based violence in humanitarian action. Participants will also be introduced to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender Marker, a key tool now being used in humanitarian action. The course will provide basic knowledge and skills on gender to staff of international humanitarian organisations, aiming to deepen their engagement on gender responsive programming.

This certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, discussion, webinars, a written assignment and quizzes, and is offered over a 6-week period. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. Participants will do the required readings, prepare interim and final assignments and participate in group discussions. Case studies will be used to enable interactive learning and activities.

Course outline

Week 1. Gender and humanitarian action key concepts, policy and legal framework and why gender matters
Week 2. Gender and humanitarian action using tools: gender analysis, sex and age disaggregated data, participation and applying these to projects
Week 3. Assessing gender across selected clusters
Week 4. Gender-based violence and humanitarian action specific and mainstreaming responses
Week 5. The IASC Gender Marker
Week 6. Applying the gender-sensitive approach

About the instructor

Gretchen Alther is a development specialist focused on the recovery of marginalized communities after humanitarian crises. She has designed and managed programs to support disaster relief, conflict zone aid, health, and community resilience projects in Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, Guatemala, Gaza, Colombia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and the United States. Most recently, Ms. Alther has been a Fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu, where she explored the role of experiential education in developing effective leadership. She currently facilitates sustainability leadership programs around the world. From 2006-2012, Gretchen was Senior Associate Rights in Humanitarian Crises at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). Before joining the UUSC she worked for the Centre for Development and Population Activities, including as Acting Country Director in Nepal, and served as an advisor for the American Friends Service Committee's Peace and Economic Security Program. She holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Natural Resource Management from Texas A&M University, an MA in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and a postgraduate certificate from the East-West Center.

Who should apply

The course is intended for staff of inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, humanitarian practitioners and gender focal points interested in gender as it relates to humanitarian programming. Participants should have a good written command of English -- the working language of the course -- and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants. The maximum number of course participants is 25. A Certificate of Participation will be awarded upon successful completion of the course. It also possible to audit the course.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 575; tuition for auditors: US$ 215. There are no scholarships or discounted tuition rates available for this course.

Payments can be made online by major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal, bank transfer and money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram). Bulk rates are available.


Register for this course (opens in new window). Registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. There is no registration deadline, but please be aware that courses generally fill up quickly!

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HREA Gender Equality Training Programme 2014-2015 acrobat (PDF)

HREA Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Aid Training Programme 2014-2015 acrobat (PDF)

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