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Afghanistan: Gender Inclusive Humanitarian Response [EN]


Due to security concerns and socio-cultural barriers, some female personnel may face challenges when travelling for work or participating in other professional activities. These persistent barriers to full participation in the workforce have resulted in diminished overall response quality and effectiveness, primarily due to fewer women participating in assessments, implementation and monitoring and fewer women being consulted about their needs. Identifying and addressing the barriers that contribute to social exclusion and deprive women of their right to employment will support the humanitarian community to develop more responsive policies for eliminating them.

Among other adaptations to meet the unique challenges facing female personnel required to travel for their work, one potential tool is for women to be supported to travel with a family member as a Mahram. This approach has financial, logistics and response capacity implications but could greatly increase the representation of women in the humanitarian workforce and improve representation of women in assessment results.1 Women and girls affected by the crisis are often not allowed to speak to male enumerators, particularly about sensitive issues. The involvement of female personnel in humanitarian activities is a key step in ensuring women’s and girls’ views and needs are better heard and understood, and thus inform and shape the humanitarian response.

The ICCT collectively encourages partners to consider adopting consistent, gender-sensitive approaches to the delivery of humanitarian assistance including, where desired by female personnel, the use of Mahrams for in-country travel. One existing example of such a gender-sensitive approach in practice, is the UNHAS policy on flight costs for female passengers. In recognition of the low participation of women in the response, UNHAS offers reduced rates for female passengers participating in the humanitarian response and the opportunity for female caregivers to travel with their child, as needed. This allows additional flexibility for organisations to cover the cost of an accompanying Mahram, whenever requested by the female personnel.


Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
15 Jun 2021
Document type: 
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination