Gender and Humanitarian Action

26 April-6 June 2017 (E05517) | Closed
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.

Course structure

This certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, discussion, webinars and quizzes, and is offered over a six-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. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to audit the course.

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

Gretchen AltherGretchen Alther is Leadership Education Specialist at the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu. 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. She currently facilitates sustainability leadership programs around the world. From 2006-2012, Gretchen was Senior Associate for 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. She is also the instructor of HREA’s Effective Leadership for Humanitarian Action and Social Change, Human Rights in Humanitarian Action and Disaster Relief (Foundation Course) and Resilience, Humanitarian Action, and Human Development e-learning courses.

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.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 435 (after 1 March 2017: US$ 495); tuition for auditorsUS$ 165 (US$ 195 after 1 March 2017). Payments can be made online with major credit cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal and bank transfer (additional fee applies). Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.

How to register

The course has been canceled.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about HREA’s e-learning courses.