ACF Keeps Gender on the Agenda

Gender Policy Action Against Hunger

“If we do not make specific efforts to talk to women…the risk is that their voices, vulnerabilities, and capacities will not be heard or considered in our interventions,” Clara Ituero, Global Gender Advisor for Action Against Hunger International (ACF International), describes one of many motivations behind Action Against Hunger’s Gender Agenda. “[In that way] we are doing something that is not adapted to the whole population but just to half of the population.”

In 2013, ACF started drafting and implementing the revised Gender Policy & Toolkit that aims to increase the impact of ACF interventions for women, girls, boys, and men by analyzing and addressing gender issues at both office and program levels.

Rather than just prioritizing women and girls, ACF’s Gender Policy strives ensure ACF not only acknowledges the different perspectives and needs of all genders and ages, but that we adapt our response to the specific needs and capacities of women, men, girls and boys.

“When we talk about gender, many people think we only talk about women and girls in general. But we are actually talking about different roles and needs of different sexes,” Ituero said.

“Understanding gender and age differences, and acting upon them is central to ACF International’s (ACF) mission and mandate to be prepared for and respond to emergencies and fight against hunger and malnutrition as well as ensure long-term recovery” (ACF Gender Policy)

Men, women, girls and boy have different needs and experiences, which are often exacerbated by emergencies such as natural disasters or conflicts. This means that each group has different needs, different perceptions, and different priorities regarding what assistance they need. For example, a lack of access to micronutrients such as iron for pregnant women might lead to an infant with a low birth weight that can negatively affect the child’s health in the future. Unsafe latrine or water access points can lead to sexual violence against women, but it is important to remember men and boys can become victims as well. Programs must consider each group’s needs for safety and access as well when planning community projects or in an emergency response.

To ensure the implementation of the policy, ACF has established a twin track approach that focuses on both mainstreaming the policy across all strategies, programs and projects as well as taking targeted actions responding to the disadvantages or special needs of vulnerable groups.

In 2014 alone, more than 800 ACF staff, including 365 women and 438 men, were trained on the Gender Policy & Toolkit.

Under the collaboration among staff from all five ACF headquarters and field offices, this gender policy is now in its third phase. This phase of the Gender Agenda will seek to institutionalize and mainstream the Gender Policy & Toolkit into organizational practices while also reinforcing organizational gender capacities through innovation and technology.

“The ACF family is becoming more and more aware of the importance for implementing the gender policy in program level,” Ituero said. “People [in the field] are also starting to realize how gender policy is affecting the works done in the field.”

Learn more about the importance of gender in humanitarian response:

Have other questions? Contact Viktoria Lovrics, Gender Project Coordinator, at


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