Gender Equality in the Humanitarian Response to the Beirut Port Explosions

A Review

Authored by: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Categories: Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: Economic Recovery, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Lebanon
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2021
Citation: "Gender Equality in the Humanitarian Response to the Beirut Port Explosions: A Review." United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. June 2021.

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Executive Summary

Coordinated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on behalf of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, and in collaboration with humanitarian partners in Lebanon, a system-wide humanitarian response to the Beirut Port Explosions was primarily directed through the Flash Appeal from August 2020 to December 2020. Against this background, OCHA and UN Women jointly developed this review to examine the extent to which issues of gender equality were factored into various stages of the Flash Appeal. Reviewed against the standards set out in the 2017 IASC Policy on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Settings, this review highlights best practices and key successes, and proposes recommendations where there is scope for improvement to guide upcoming exercises, such as country-wide contingency planning and a nation-wide Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (MSNA), and the implementation of the Lebanon Reform, Recovery & Reconstruction Framework (3RF) co-led by the UN, World Bank Group and European Union.

The review suggests that the Flash Appeal response to the Beirut Port explosions maintained some attention to gender equality throughout its duration, with several efforts that can be highlighted as best practices for future activities in both Lebanon and other emergency settings. Facilitated by a mix of factors including the commitment to gender equality demonstrated by multiple senior leaders, the availability of a dedicated Gender Advisor within OCHA through the secondment from UN Women, and presence of a strong feminist civil society, these positive efforts are particularly notable given the rapid – and short – nature of the Flash Appeal. Among others, these include the integration of gender expertise from the initial stages of the response in key coordination fora, the availability of gender analysis and its use by key operational, humanitarian sectors, and some use of sex and age disaggregated data (SADD) in needs assessments, monitoring exercises, as well as in referral mechanisms. At the same time, there remain important areas with scope for improvement, specifically in ensuring that SADD is collected and utilized consistently from the initial stages, translating the commitments to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) to action, in establishing gender-responsive accountability to affected population (AAP) and community engagement (CE) mechanisms, as well as in financing and supporting the rich network of women’s rights organizations and women-led groups in Lebanon. Given the likelihood of humanitarian needs persisting over time – including beyond Beirut and the areas affected by the explosions – the establishment of streamlined gender in humanitarian action coordination spaces and capacity is suggested.