Tackling the integration of gender-based violence prevention and response and cash-based interventions

Efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) should be regarded as a priority for all actors in every humanitarian response operation from the very outset. By mainstreaming GBV considerations in cash-based interventions (CBIs) throughout the programme cycle, and by utilizing cash within GBV case management services, cash can be optimized as a tool to enhance the protection of crisis- and conflict-affected populations, and to mitigate their risks of recurrent violence, promote their recovery and build their resilience. Between 2016 and 2018, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) undertook a 17-month action research project to assess how cash and GBV programming are currently integrated in humanitarian settings, to develop and test practical and adaptable guidance and tools, and to build the capacity of cash and GBV actors. This article shares the key findings from WRC’s stocktaking research, as follows:

1. While there has been progress on cash and protection, the integration of cash and GBV programming has yet to be widely addressed and represents the next frontier.

2. Cash, gender and GBV actors are siloed within agencies and across communities of practice, impeding clarity over roles and responsibilities, the development of successful approaches, and effective coordination efforts.

3. Prevailing anxiety about integrating cash and GBV programming, including the view held by some GBV actors that cash, in itself, is risky, and the view of some cash actors that the protection sector is intimidating, inhibit actors from working together to develop the required skills and build up the evidence to move forward.

4. Good practice and nascent programming exist and can be scaled up and institutionalized.

5. Resource gaps, including staffing and donor funding, represent challenges to generating learning and building up evidence. 

6. Persistent poor practice undercuts the potential of cash: a lack of gender and protection analysis, the perpetuation of one-size-fits-all programming, missed opportunities to pair cash with complementary services for gender-transformative and protective outcomes, and a failure to establish and utilize GBV referral pathways.

7. Cash and GBV practitioners need practical field resources for staff capacity-building, assessments and monitoring.