It’s not about the gender binary, it’s about the gender hierarchy: A reply to “Letting Go of the Gender Binary”

11 April 2017 Jeanne Ward

The "Debate" section of the Review aims to contribute to the reflection on current ethical, legal, or operational controversies around humanitarian issues. In its issue on "Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict" (Vol. 96, No. 894, 2014), the Review published an Opinion Note by Chris Dolan entitled "Letting Go of the Gender Binary: Charting New Pathways for Humanitarian Interventions on Gender-Based Violence". In light of the review process for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee's Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action (GBV Guidelines), Dolan argues for a shift in the conceptualization of gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian settings from an emphasis on gender equality to an ethos of gender inclusivity. This, he suggests, is essential to improving the situation of victims, furthering social justice and changing agendas. In this issue, the Review presents the view of Jeanne Ward, one of the lead authors of the revised GBV Guidelines. For Ward, attempts to shift away from a focus on gender equality in GBV programming represent a regression rather than an advancement for the GBV field, as a dedicated spotlight on the rights and needs of women and girls continues to be hard-won in humanitarian contexts. Instead, she suggests retaining a focus on women and girls in GBV work, while moving forward in partnership with those who wish to accelerate programming directed to men and LGBTI communities broadly.

About the author

Jeanne Ward
Independent Consultant

Ms. Jeanne Ward is an internationally recognized expert on gender-based violence (GBV). With a primary focus on humanitarian settings, she provides technical leadership, training, assessment and monitoring support to United Nations agencies, international NGOs, NGOs/CBOs and government partners in developing and improving GBV-related research, policies, systems, programmes and community-based practices. She is the author of numerous publications on GBV, and has developed globally disseminated tools and guidelines, most recently the global IASC Guidelines for Integrating Gender-Based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Action (2015).