IRRC No. 901

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

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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.

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