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Keeping Women and Girls Safe in Emergencies, 23 February 2017

On 23 February 2017, David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), provided a key note address entitled ‘Keeping women and girls safe in emergencies’, to an invited audience as part of the Iveagh House lecture series.

Video: Dylan Murphy, Fast Forward Productions

‌During an emergency the vulnerability of women and girls is particularly exacerbated, with heightened risk of experiencing some form of abuse, including Gender Based Violence (GBV). This important event served to raise awareness on the issue of GBV in Emergencies and to share evidence based best practice on how to prevent and respond to GBV and keep women and girls safe during an emergency.

The address was followed by an interactive panel discussion, moderated by the Director General of Irish Aid, Michael Gaffey. In addition to David Miliband, the panel of experts consisted of Nora Owen as Chairperson of the Oversight Group for Ireland’s National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security, Dominic MacSorley as Chair of the Irish Consortium for Gender Based Violence, and Jenny Becker, an IRC GBV emergency responder.

The IRC was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein to help refugees from Germany and across Europe escape conflict and persecution. The IRC is a valuable partner for Irish Aid. This is due to the IRC’s longstanding history of working in emergency crises and moreover due to its vast knowledge and skills in preventing, mitigating, and responding to Gender Based Violence (GBV) in emergencies, ensuring the centrality of protection for the most vulnerable in all humanitarian action.

The IRC’s approach to humanitarian action ensures gender equality is addressed across all of its work and is deeply rooted and prioritised in the five year organisational strategy, IRC 2020. This strategy prioritises the inclusion of women and girls’ in the design of humanitarian programmes and strives to achieve positive gender outcomes based on evidence of what works to bring about change.

In 2014, Ireland entered into an innovative, multi-layered, two-year strategic partnership with the IRC focusing GBV in Emergencies. The programme is built around three interlinking pillars, including GBV prevention and response programming in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya) and South Sudan, a GBV emergency response fund, and GBV policy and advocacy at EU level. A new two year partnership to the value of €2.2 million came into effect in early 2017. This continued partnership with the IRC specifically prioritises the protection of women and girls and treatment for the consequences of GBV in emergencies. Irish Aid also provides funding for the IRC in Sierra Leone and Liberia, focusing on women’s empowerment and protection. Since 2012, Irish Aid has provided almost €5.8 million to the IRC. The announcement of €2.2 million in funding over the next two years will bring this support to over €8 million.

Minister Flanagan with IRC CEO David Miliband (Photo:

Photo: Maxwell Photography