Data collection
Our Partners
Related Tools


Last edited: July 03, 2013

This content is available in

  • Every coordination mechanism will face unique challenges that must be resolved collectively by coordination partners and through coordination leadership.  Even so, there are some common coordination challenges that exist across many humanitarian settings that, if anticipated, may be averted and/or avoided.
  • Successful GBV coordination depends on a wide variety of sectoral actors—from policy-makers to advocates to programmers to people of concern—working as partners to achieve safe, ethical and comprehensive GBV prevention and response programming.  Broad participation of multi-sectoral partners can be beneficial because it:
    • Enables transfer of knowledge and problem-solving.
    • Provides greater legitimacy to the issues through wider engagement and commitment of partners. 
    • Ensures coherence of standards and values.
    • Increases leverage with key stakeholders.
    • Enables strategic multi-sectoral prevention and response planning. 
    • Improves advocacy efforts.
    • Increases predictability and accountability in prevention and response programming.
  • Yet, evidence suggests that engaging too many partners can have a limiting effect on the coordination mechanism, as it becomes too big to handle. It is therefore important for GBV Coordinators to monitor membership, addressing gaps in membership as necessary and ensuring that individuals with decision-making capacity are present at coordination meetings.  The concept of inclusive membership should not mean indiscriminate membership, but rather participation of a variety of partners that facilitates, rather than detracts from, the goals of the coordination mechanism.
  • For a coordinator to build inclusive membership, s/he must understand the benefits of participation. A GBV Coordinator also must have the capacity to advocate for the participation of particular agencies/groups, both to partners that are already participating in the GBV coordination mechanism (to promote inclusiveness), as well as to those targeted for participation (to motivate them). The GBV Coordinator may need to pursue particular agencies/organizations/individuals, especially in the early stages of building a coordination mechanism.  At the same time, s/he must be aware of some of the potential problems associated with including specific groups and develop strategies to avert those problems.






For the coordination mechanism

For the targeted



Representatives of other clusters/ sectors, gender focal points and gender theme group leads, mental health and psychosocial support focal points, mission representatives (where there are peacekeeping operations)

•    Ensures that the strategies and action plans of the GBV coordination mechanism are

in line with those of other clusters/ sectors and

other  relevant coordination bodies.

•    Facilitates communication about GBV problems, gaps in programming and methods to address these gaps.

•    Strengthens accountability with regard to GBV issues.

•    Provides opportunities for capacity-building and resource-sharing.

•    May not understand GBV as a critical issue to their sector/ cluster/group.

•    May feel GBV is irrelevant, meetings are a waste of precious time.

People of concern

•    Increases service coverage and opportunities for better prevention/ protection.

•    Limits a top- down approach to humanitarian aid and supports guiding

principles of GBV


•    Ensures consideration of their multiple needs and rights.

•    Provides a forum for sharing their inputs.

•    Can be a means for people of concern to hold humanitarian actors accountable for delivering on promises, protecting

their needs and rights.

•    In settings where the government is hostile, may pose security risk to involve people of concern.

•    May require additional efforts in facilitation of meetings (e.g., translation) and in dissemination of information (e.g.,

hard copy instead of electronic).

•    May be emotionally challenging for those exposed to violence to attend GBV meetings.

Civil society (including local NGOs, community- based organizations, etc.)

•    Have a comparative advantage in

early response and operational planning due to

their links with local communities and authorities.

•    Increases understanding of the humanitarian system.

•    Ensures they have a voice in what is happening and enables them to share

the inputs of people of concern.

•    Enables networking with partners and donors in order to build programmes and access funds.

•    Access to technical support for building capacity.

•    Provides a safe forum for accessing the government.

•    Managing the proliferation of new NGOs when funds become available for GBV.

•    Managing perception that participation in GBV coordination body will lead to funding.

•    Security risks for local actors in settings where

government is hostile and NGOs face threats/sanctions.

International NGOs

•    Most often the primary implementers of GBV programmes and the major actors in the field of humanitarian response.

•    Have resources and expertise that differs from – and often exceeds –  that of

UN agencies.

•    Reduces threat

of overlap and

competition for


•    Access to technical support and opportunities for problem-sharing/ problem-solving.

•    Networking opportunities with donors.

•    Ensures they have a voice in what is happening and enables them to share

the inputs of people of concern.

•    Provides a safe forum for interacting with the government.

•    Often not adequately engaged in coordination (perception of ‘top– down’ approach and NGO participation as tokenism).

•    No clear humanitarian structure for oversight and accountability of INGOs.


•    Primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance.

•    Ultimately responsible and accountable for protecting and caring for the affected population both during and beyond the crisis period.

•    Increases likelihood of accountability and sustainability

of coordination mechanism.

•    Increases understanding of the humanitarian system.

•    Ensures that they have a voice in what is happening and enables them to share the inputs of their ministries and people of concern.

•    Provides a space for accountability when things go wrong and a forum for taking

credit when things go right.

•    Enables networking with partners and donors.

•    Access to technical support to build capacity, may leave them with critical assets to coordinate post-crisis.

•    May be implicitly or explicitly engaged in perpetration of GBV.

•    May be in a position to significantly restrict access

of frontline organizations to the affected population.

•    Ministry of Gender rarely empowered and/or given adequate funding to address GBV (sidelined issue).

•    Other ministries that should be involved may not consider GBV to be a problem, or may dismiss it as a women’s issue.


•    Gain a better understanding of key issues related to GBV programming.

•    Can be advocates within their agencies for allocating funding.

•    Ensures appropriate programmatic responses.

•    Helps them prioritize

their funding.

•    Reduces confusion

about proposals and

potential for overlap.

•    Allows their ideas/

priorities to be heard

and incorporated.

•    Increases likelihood

that their strategies

are in line with

the government’s


•    May attempt to influence strategic frameworks/ coordination goals based on their agencies’ priorities.

•    Can limit open dialogue among participants afraid of alienating donors.

SOURCE:  Ward, J. 2010.  Handbook for Coordinating Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings, GBV AoR, pgs 89-91.