Gender Equality Policy

Policy Gender Equality Policy
Version 2021.03
Approver International Executive Committee (IEC)
Effective Date August 26, 2021
Review Date August 26, 2022
Languages Arabic, English, French, Spanish
Signatories Action Against Hunger/Action contre la faim Canada
Action contre la Faim France
Aktion gegen den Hunger Germany
Action Against Hunger India
Accion contra el Hambre Spain
Action Against Hunger USA
Action Against Hunger UK


Action Against Hunger’s Gender Equality Policy commits us to empowering women and girls, and transforming gender and power relations in all that we do. We are committed to upholding the rights of all women, men, girls, boys and people of diverse abilities, genders and identities both within our organization, and in the communities we work with. Fundamental to our mission to end hunger is achieving gender equality within our organization, our programs and our partnerships. Action Against Hunger’s work in communities will build on the practical steps we have already taken to achieve gender equality. We are committed to resourcing, prioritising and monitoring our progress towards achieving gender equality across our network, organizational structures and culture


Action Against Hunger has a vision for a world without hunger – where women, men, girls, boys and people of all identities and abilities have access to sufficient nutritious food and clean water and can attain these with dignity.i We can only achieve this vision if we put women’s rights and gender equality at the heart of all we do.

Action Against Hunger believes that gender equality is an intrinsic human right and an end in itself. Addressing gender inequality across all aspects of our work is essential to increased food security for all, tackling poverty and social injustice, and achieving sustainable outcomes from our programs across all sectors.

Gender inequality is a major cause and consequence of hunger and poverty.ii It shapes food dynamics at the household and community level – women, girls and other marginalized people are significantly disadvantaged in their access to and control over food, from production through to consumption.iii Women and girls are overrepresented among people who are food-insecure, because they are often denied basic human rights – such as the right to own land, access to decent work, education and health services. If women and other marginalized people had the same access to productive resources as men, yields on women’s farms would increase significantly, and food insecurity would be substantially reduced. Moreover, bridging this gap would put more resources in the hands of women and strengthen their voice within the household – a strategy proven to have multiplier effects on the food security, nutrition, education and health of their children.iv

We must therefore treat gender equality as a key strategy in assuring food security and ending hunger for all our key sectors and initiatives – including prevention of gender based violence through all our activities, building resilience, strengthening health and social protection systems, mitigating the impacts of climate change, and knowledge creation and sharing.v

Gender inequality and exclusion vary in their expressions, but in all countries where we work, we encounter different forms of gender-based discrimination, stereotyping, and the unequal distribution of power and resources between women, men, girls, boys and gender diverse peoplevi as well as exclusion based on multiple factors. These include attributes such as race, class, faith, ethnicity, abilities, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Gender inequality compounds the negative effects of all other forms of exclusion. Our work on gender equality will be strengthened by understanding how these aspects of discrimination intersect, and by using this learning to inform our programs and advocacy.

We will work towards dismantling patriarchal power structures, promote feminist leadership and approaches and power sharing as key to gender equality.


This policy sets out a framework for Action Against Hunger to promote gender equality and adopt a gender transformative approach across our policies, workplace culture, governance, operational processes and programs at all levels.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • ensure greater understanding, consistency and a common language for implementing gender equality principles, commitments and practices across the organization.
  • guide us towards implementing locally driven and context-appropriate strategies to challenge and change discriminatory gender norms, attitudes and behaviours towards those that promote gender equality.
  • enable us to promote gender equality though our strengthened network, by building on our gender expertise and experience.
  • provide an accountability framework for assessing our progress towards gender equality.

Implementation of this policy will require strong leadership, resources and the transformation of our traditional power structures, institutional cultures and behaviour, as well as our technical expertise. Aligned with Action Against Hunger’s strategic plan, we are committed to working towards gender transformation and ensuring its measurement. We recognise that gender transformation requires a consistent and persistent long-term commitment.

Gender Transformative approaches, policies and programs seek to explicitly challenge and change harmful gender relations to promote equality and achieve program objectives by:

  1. examining power differences, intersecting inequalities and gender roles, norms, and dynamics;
  2. recognizing and strengthening positive intersectional gender norms that support equality and an enabling environment for change;
  3. promoting the relative position of women, girls, and marginalized groups (rather than simply improving their condition); and
  4. transforming the underlying social, legal and economic structures, policies, and social norms that perpetuate gender inequalities.

A gender transformative approach recognizes that it is not possible to achieve gender equality without explicitly challenging power and privilege (patriarchy), and that a feminist and rights-based approach is needed to make sustainable progress.


This policy is for all of Action Against Hunger. It applies globally across Action Against Hunger’s humanitarian and long-term development programming, including our support operations, technical programs and advocacy. It applies to all Action Against Hunger International network entities, including employees and representativesvii in Headquarters, Regional and Country offices, and to all our partners.viii


This policy is aligned with our over-arching core principles, and the International Strategic Plan (ISP) 2021-2025 which commits us to a gender transformative approach to address hunger and malnutrition.ix It is also aligned with international human rights law and the global Sustainable Development Goals.x

The following gender equality principles provide enduring guidance to our work:xi

  1. Gender equality is a pre-condition for ending hunger and is a foundation for an effective humanitarian response and sustainable development.
  2. All human beings regardless of gender, should be free to develop their abilities, receive an education, access decent work, and make choices about their lives without being limited by gender stereotypes, rigid gender roles, identities or discrimination.
  3. Embedding gender transformative approaches to achieve gender equality is a shared responsibility for all employees and representatives across all parts of Action Against Hunger.
  4. In order to achieve gender equality, we must address the root causes of gender inequality and take a transformative approach in addition to meeting practical needs. This requires us to take steps to empower individuals, transform gender and power relations and build gender equitable structures and systems.xii This includes challenging patriarchal structures, norms, privilege and power.
  5. Addressing gender inequality is a pre-condition for the prevention of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.xiii We will mitigate all forms of gender-based violence and backlash and take a survivor centred approach.xiv, xv
  6. Gender equality benefits all people regardless of gender. We will work with men, boys and duty bearers as partners and allies to achieve gender equality.
  7. Gender inequality is compounded by other intersecting forms of marginalization and discrimination on the basis of age, disabilities, ethnicity, gender identity, race, faith, sexual orientation and other attributes. All activities, policies and programs have an intersectional gendered impact. We will develop our understanding of these impacts to ensure that we do no harm in our organization and programs.
  8. Action Against Hunger recognizes that women, girls and gender diverse people are disproportionately impacted by gender inequalities.
  9. Special measures and resources are necessary to narrow gender disparities and promote gender equality.xvi We recognise that people have different needs and power related to their gender, and we will identify these differences and address them to achieve equal outcomes and benefits through a twin track approach (targeted actions and gender mainstreaming).
  10. Action Against Hunger recognize that community driven approaches, collaboration and long-term partnerships are critical in the journey to empower women and girls, transform gender relations and build gender equitable systems.


Action Against Hunger’s approach to gender equality is dynamic and contextual – we are a diverse organisation and every office and program in our organisation is at a different stage in the journey towards gender equality. However, we are all committed to, and on the same path towards gender transformation.xvii

To achieve gender transformation programmatically and organizationally we commit to:

This includes:

  • Conducting, analysing and understanding gender and power analysis and the risk of gender-based violence in our internal data and organisational structures, policies and practices.xix
  • Conducting, analysing and understanding gender and power analysis and the risk of gender-based violence in all of our humanitarian and long-term development programs as a basis for design and action.
  • Designing, resourcing and driving a learning agenda based on gender-transformative humanitarian research, action and partnerships that demonstrates the relationship between undernutrition and gender inequality.

This includes:

  • Adopting and implementing a gender transformative approach guided by our commitments to gender equality across our humanitarian, and long-term development programs to address food and nutrition challenges.xx
  • Adopting and implementing a gender transformative approach in our organizational systems, approaches and culture. We will collect data, analyse and act to embed gender equitable policies, procedures and culture in our work. This includes all internal process and practices related to human resources, finances, security, logistics and communications.
  • Developing and demonstrating gender-equitable leadership, power-sharing and a feminist transformative approach to enhance systematic change throughout our organization and programmes.
  • Creating opportunities and partnerships that actively question and challenge discriminatory gender norms, unequal power dynamics and structures that serve to reinforce gendered inequalities across all aspects of our work.

This includes:

  • Implementing organisation wide agreed gender equality standards upon which to measure our progress in achieving our Gender Equality Policy and related strategic commitments.xxi
  • Members will resource, develop and progress Gender Equality Action Plans in order to uphold our standards and meet our gender equality goals.
  • Investing in community-led evidence generation and research to document learnings and share knowledge and strategies to empower women and girls, shift gender relations and embed gender equitable structures and systems.
  • Resourcing and measuring the effectiveness of gender transformative programming and organisational change.

This includes:

  • Mobilising and allocating the necessary human, technical and financial resources for our partners, network and programs to meet policy commitments.
  • Holding ourselves accountable at all times to the affected communities we work with men, women, boys, girls and people of diverse identities, genders and abilities.xxii
  • Reporting on our progress and our lessons to our donors, affected communities, personnel and partners.
  • Action Against Hunger leadership will be accountable for all aspects of ensuring that this policy is integrated into all aspects of our work to save lives, build resilience and mobilize and share knowledge.

Together, our work will strive to create long-term impact by fostering structural changes in behaviours, inequalities, and social norms and culture that drive hunger.


All Action Against Hunger employees and representatives Responsible for understanding and implementing this policy as it pertains to their day-to-day work. Employees and representatives are expected to promote gender equality in all aspects of their work and behaviour.
Executive Directors Accountable and responsible for the resourcing, implementation and reporting on policy implementation within their organizations, managing headquarters, country or regional offices.
Directors, Senior Managers and Department Heads Responsible for promoting and implementing the policy by integrating the policy into strategies and action plans at all levels; allocating adequate resources to enhance the capacity of employees and partners for implementation; and ensuring that all employees understand the implications for their day-to-day work.
Country Directors and country level Senior Management Teams Responsible for ensuring that the policy is resourced, integrated and actioned in country strategy documents and implementation plans; for ensuring capacity development of employees; and involving communities and partners in the process.
International Gender Unit (IGU) Responsible for the provision of strategic and technical advice for the implementation of the policy, including: the development of tools; providing training to support policy implementation; and providing advice and guidance on monitoring, evaluation and reporting against the policy commitments.
Gender Task Force / Community of Practice Responsible for: contributing to the design and monitoring of gender action plans; developing and implementing initiatives to promote and support the implementation of the policy; facilitating dialogue and sharing information across the network related to the policy and its implementation; providing feedback to and consultation for the IGU.
Action Against Hunger Governance Bodies (ICC) Responsible for providing strategic leadership and accountability across all aspects of the gender equality policy including in governance, organisational culture, annual reporting, budget and resource mobilisation, risk assessment and management, and strategic program direction. They are also responsible for reporting and tracking progress on gender equality against agreed ISP selected indicators and Gender Minimum Standards, and key indicators of progress towards a gender transformative approach.


To ensure accountability, a reporting, review and monitoring process, led by the International Gender Unit (IGU), will be established and resourced to monitor progress and achievements.

Regular reports on the progress and implementation of this policy will be made to the International Executive Committee and Action Against Hunger ICC and Governing Board. This will include an annual review of implementation and compliance with, and qualification under the Gender Minimum Standards across the Action Against Hunger network. Gender indicators linked to the International Strategic Plan (2021-2025) will be monitored and reviewed on an annual basis.

Ultimately success of this gender policy will be measured by the transformative change experienced in the lives of women, men, girls and boys and gender diverse people impacted by Action Against Hunger’s work.


This policy should be read in conjunction with:


Empowerment: Empowerment is about women, men, girls and boys taking control over their lives: setting their own agendas, developing skills (including life skills), building self-confidence, solving problems and developing self-reliance. The process of empowerment enables women, men, girls and boys and communities to develop their capabilities to question existing inequalities as well as act for change.

Feminist Approach: A feminist approach means committing both to an outcome (the advancement of the rights of men, women, boys, girls and people of all genders and identities), but also to a process (our ways of working, our program design and implementation, our policy and campaigning, and the values which underpin our decisions as employees and leaders).

Gender: A social construct built through cultural, political and social practices that defines the roles of women, girls, men and boys, and gender diverse people as well as the social definitions of what it means to be masculine and feminine. Gender roles are taught, learned and absorbed and vary between and even within cultures. Gender often defines the duties and responsibilities expected of women, girls, men, boys and gender diverse people at any given time of their lives and sets some of the barriers they may face or opportunities and privileges they may enjoy throughout their lives. Gender, along with age, sexual orientation and gender identity, determines the power which women, girls, men and boys have and their ability to access and control resources.

Gender-Based Violence: Violence that is used against someone because of their gender. It describes violence rooted in gender-based power inequalities and gender-based discrimination. While people of all genders can experience gender-based violence, the term is most often used to describe violence against women and girls, because the majority of cases of gender-based violence are perpetrated by men against women.xxiv

Gender Equality: Equality of rights, opportunities, responsibilities and outcomes between people of different genders.xxv It includes the redistribution of resources and responsibilities between men, women and gender diverse people and the transformation of the underlying causes and structures of gender inequality to achieve substantive equality. It is about recognizing diversity and disadvantage to ensure equal outcomes for all, and therefore often requires women-specific programs and policies to end existing inequalities.xxvi Gender equality does not mean erasing gender differences, but that people’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities are not dependent on their gender.xxvii

Gender Equity: Fairness and justice in the distribution of rights, responsibilities and resources between women and men and gender diverse people according to their respective needs. The concept recognizes that people have different needs and power related to their gender, and that these differences should be identified and addressed in a way that ensures equal outcomes and benefits.xxviii

Gender Inequality: Unequal distribution of power, resources, opportunity, and value between men, women, boys, girls and people of diverse genders and identities, due to prevailing gendered norms and structures.

Gender Equality Continuum: To guide development and humanitarian program teams to understand their approach to gender a conceptual tool known as the gender continuum categorizes approaches by how we treat gender norms and inequities in the design, implementation and evaluation of our programmatic initiative. They are graded from gender harmful to gender transformative.xxix

Gender Stereotypes: Rigid, simplistic assumptions and generalizations about the abilities, attributes, skills, behaviours, preferences, and roles that people should have or demonstrate, based on their prescribed or perceived gender. Like other aspects of gender, stereotypes are learned and internalized, so they are often seen as natural, innate, and true; people who don’t neatly fit the stereotype are seen as exceptions or special cases. Stereotypes may be positive or negative. Negative stereotypes lead to unfair treatment, sexism, discrimination, and exclusion.

Diverse Genders: A term for individuals whose gender expression is different from societal expectations related to gender. Gender expression refers to all of the external characteristics and behaviours that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions, often along the lines of race and class. Social or cultural norms can vary widely and some characteristics that may be accepted as masculine, feminine or neutral in one culture may not be assessed similarly in another.

Gender Norms: Gender norms are the accepted attributes and characteristics of male and female gendered identity at a particular point in time for a specific society or community. They are the standards and expectations to which gender identity generally conforms, within a range that defines a particular society, culture and community at that point in time. Gender norms are ideas about how women, men, girls and boys should be and act. Internalized early in life, gender norms can establish a life cycle of gender socialization and stereotyping. In many contexts, such differentiation leads to a hierarchy between sexes and sexualities, which in turns translates into unequal access to power, opportunities and resources.

Gender Sensitive Approach: Programming that recognizes existing gender differences and inequalities, with efforts made to do no harm and to ensure that women, girls and marginalised people participate in and benefit equally, without explicitly challenging gendered norms, structures and power differences in programming processes or

Gender Transformative: Takes specific measures to change social structures, cultural norms, and gender relations in order to achieve more shared and equal power dynamics and control of resources, decision making, and support for women’s empowerment. Makes the social changes necessary to meet men’s, women’s, boys’, girls’ and gender diverse peoples’ strategic needs; addresses the root causes of inequalities; actively promotes gender equality. Denotes change in position not just change in condition.

Gender Transformative Approach: Gender Transformative approaches, policies and programs seek to explicitly challenge and change harmful gender relations to promote equality and achieve program objectives by:

  1. examining power differences, intersecting inequalities and gender roles, norms, and dynamics;
  2. recognizing and strengthening positive intersectional gender norms that support equality and an enabling environment for change;
  3. promoting the relative position of women, girls, and marginalized groups (rather than simply improving their condition); and
  4. transforming the underlying social, legal and economic structures, policies, and social norms that perpetuate gender inequalities.

A gender transformative approach recognizes that it is not possible to achieve gender equality without explicitly challenging power and privilege (patriarchy), and that a feminist and rights-based approach is needed to make sustainable

Intersectionality / Intersectional: Describes the complex ways that different aspects of identity overlap and intersect with structures and systems of power and oppression. It recognizes that our identities are made up of multiple interrelated attributes (such as race, gender, ability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, socio-economic status and a history of colonialism and dispossession), and that these expose people to multiple forms of discrimination, disadvantage, cultural and structural oppression, and violence.

Intersectional approach: An approach to programs and policy that takes into account all aspects of diverse peoples lived experiences of oppression and discrimination as well as the systems that produce and perpetuate that oppression in order to understand how those forces intersect and create deep-rooted barriers to equality and justice and then develop programs and policies that dismantle this discrimination.

Patriarchy: Refers to a traditional form of organizing society which lies at the root of gender inequality and has the following features: men/masculine attributes and roles are accorded more importance and value than women/feminine attributes and roles; property, decision-making and control over resources in most areas of life is regarded as the proper the domain of men; and various forms of oppression of women in both private and public spheres. This is based on stereotypes (such as beliefs that women are more naturally suited to be caregivers and men as leaders) and underlies many kinds of gender-based discrimination.

Survivor-centred Approach: Seeks to empower the survivor of gender-based violence by prioritizing their rights, needs and wishes. It means ensuring that survivors have access to appropriate, accessible and good quality services including health care, psychological and social support, security and legal services. It helps to promote a survivor’s recovery and reinforce their capacity to make decisions about possible interventions.

Twin-track Approach to Gender Mainstreaming: This incorporates both gender-targeted interventions to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in specific social groups, specific organizations and/or processes as well as integrating gender perspectives across all areas, to ensure that gender inequalities are addressed across the substantive work of all sectors.

iAction Against Hunger. 2021. International Strategic Plan 2021-2025. Available from:

iiThe AAH, International Strategic Plan notes that ”the link between gender inequality and undernutrition. Many of the underlying causes of undernutrition such as inadequate care practices, poor access to nutritious food and quality health and water sanitation and hygiene services directly or indirectly link to gender inequalities. See page 12, International Strategic Plan 2021-2025.

iiiCARE International. 2020. Left Out and Left Behind: Ignoring Women Will Prevent Us from Solving the Hunger Crisis. Available from:

ivFAO. 2011. The state of food and agriculture women in agriculture : closing the gender gap for development. Available from:

vAAH, International Strategic Plan, 2021-2025, pages 12 and 22.

viAction Against Hunger recognizes that there are often different views within communities about gender and diversity. We are respectful of these differences but guided by our fundamental principles; we recognize that gender is non-binary, and that terms and definitions related to gender, identity and sexuality are diverse and continue to evolve. To facilitate ease of reading within this policy we refer to all women, men, boys, girls and gender diverse people throughout. This demonstrates our recognition of and commitment to working with adults, children and individuals of all sexual orientations, gender identities and/or gender expressions.

viiFor the purposes of this policy, ‘representatives’ are defined as Board members, volunteers, interns, ambassadors, and consultants including both individual and corporate contractors, and any other representatives associated with the delivery of our work.

viiiPartners are those organization’s or institutions that we hold strategic, technical or implementation relationships with. Any organization that has affiliated with or entered into partnership agreements of any form with Action Against Hunger will be subject to due diligence to ensure relevant policy alignment.

ixAction Against Hunger core principles include: Independence, Neutrality, Unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance, Non-discrimination, Professionalism, and Transparency.

xConvention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (DEVAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and
The Inter-Agency Humanitarian Evaluation (IAHE) on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls (GEEWG) commissioned by the IAHE Steering Group and covers the period from January 2017 through December 2019

xiThe principles listed here are based on and build upon the 7principles outlined in the draft Action Against Hunger GE Strategy, March 2021: build resilience and empower women and marginalised groups; enhance leadership for gender equality; community driven approach and behavioural change; collaboration and partnership; co-creation of knowledge; accountability; and do no harm.

xiiThis means that we need to challenge the underlying drivers that ascribe greater value and power to male gender identity, norms and structures that de-value women, girls, gender diverse people and other marginalised people. By valuing everyone and changing the attitudes, behaviours, harmful gender norms and stereotypes that limit men, women, boys, girls and gender diverse people we can take meaningful steps towards achieving gender equality.


xivIbid and Oxfam Canada, Making a gender-transformative humanitarian action a reality, Briefing September 2019,

xv A study of mother-new-born dads in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo documented that war-related stress was a strong predictor of both newborn birthweight and epigenetic changes in mother and infant. Of all war-related stressors, individual experience of rape had the most profound impact, accounting for 31% of variance in birthweight.


xviiAction Against Hunger has been progressing along the gender continuum from gender-sensitive to gender transformative as described in the Action Against Hunger Draft Gender Equality Strategy 2021.

xviiiThis is drawn from and builds on the Strategic Commitments as outlined in the draft AAH Gender Equality Strategy. It also draws from the International Strategic Plan 2021-2025, Gender equality commitments, page 12.

xixSee Commitment 1: Understand Gender Inequality, Power relations and Gender based violence in our organization and in our programs, draft Gender Equality Strategy, page 7.

xxWe will integrate a gender-transformative approach into our programming, with the objective of changing power dynamics and structures that reinforce inequalities. Gender transformative humanitarian action is an important part of a broader feminist approach. Oxfam Canada, Making gender-transformative humanitarian action a reality, Briefing, September 2019.

xxiWe will continue to implement Gender Minimum Standards. These standards provide clear guidance on the minimum mandated actions to ensure gender equality issues are addressed. We are committed to achieving full, ongoing implementation of the Gender Minimum Standards across all offices. Effective implementation of the Gender Minimum Standards will provide the foundation for our gender equality commitments.

xxiiThis is in line with rights-based approaches and global commitments including the IASC Accountability to affected populations (AAP) which is an active commitment to use power responsibly by taking account of, giving account to, and being held to account by the people humanitarian organizations seek to assist.1 The Inter-Agency Standing Committee has endorsed four commitments on AAP and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA). 2 IASC. 2017. Commitments on Accountability to Affected People and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, November 2017, IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

xxiiiUnless otherwise indicated, these definitions are from Action Against Hunger. 2021. Gender Equality Strategy (Draft). Unpublished.

xxivDVRCV, Key-terms-in-the-prevention-of-violence-against-women-Partners-in-Prevention,2019,

xxvGender Equality Act 2020 (Vic) Authorised Version.

xxviOur Watch, ANROWS, VicHealth 2015 op. cit.

xxviiState of Victoria (2017) Free from Violence: Victoria’s strategy to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women: 56.

xxviiiEuropean Institute for Gender Equality,

xxixThe Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG), Programmatic Guidance,

xxxAdapted definition from IGWG,

xxxiAdapted from