Cross-cutting Themes - The Promotion of Gender Equality

©UNESCO/E. Abramson
The 'A Book for a Child in Haiti' initiative.

Why Promote Gender Equality in Post-Conflict and Post-Disaster Situations?

Conflicts and natural disasters adversely affect women, men, girls, and boys, who face different risks and are victimized in different ways based on their gendered roles within society.  

  • Women and men can play different, but essential roles in responding to crisis and attempting to resolve conflict and build peace. 
  • Women are increasingly playing a stronger role in efforts at reconciliation and rebuilding their societies. 
  • Gender inequalities continue to undermine the ability of women and girls to exercise the full enjoyment of their rights, and to become active partners in emergency response, rehabilitation and development.
  • Recent statistics associated with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) reveal that 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty are women, “who perform 66% of the world’s work and produce half its food while earning only 10% of the world's income and owning less than 1% of its property” (UN MDG 2010 report).

What does UNESCO’s PCPD Gender-Specific Programming Aim to Achieve?

UNESCO’s gender-specific programmes in PCPD situations aim to increase knowledge and understanding about gender relations during and after crises, ensuring the protection and promotion of women’s rights, and encouraging their full participation in peace-building. 

  • Seize opportunities for sociopolitical and cultural change, to help promote the social rehabilitation of a PCPD affected country. 
  • Advance new institutional structures, legislation and the protection of human rights, which include women’s political, economic, and socio-cultural rights. 

Ongoing Challenges to Gender Equality in PCPD

Crises and conflict situations followed by periods of post-conflict reconstruction pose enormous challenges to the promotion of gender equality and the protection of women’s rights.  Women continue to face unprecedented levels of Gender Based Violence and domestic abuse in PCPD situations.   

  • Gender equality and women’s full participation in reconstruction phases is not a priority for many countries and donor organizations. 
  • Gender exclusion not only undermines progress on the MDGs, but it also slows down progress for reconstruction and peace-building efforts.
  • The specific needs and concerns of women and girls need to be incorporated through implementation of a gender needs assessment from the onset. 
  • Women’s role in economic or sustainable development in reconstruction efforts is often overlooked.  
  • Local-level gender-sensitive interventions are often delayed or blocked by lack of political will and resources.  
  • Socio-cultural contexts, traditional customs and institutional mechanisms remain as obstacles. 

Despite the terrible consequences of conflict for many women, it is shortsighted to see women simply as the victims of conflict, and to ignore their essential role in conflict prevention and resolution, peace-building, and decision-making.  

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