"I See That It Is Possible” Disability Inclusion in GBV Programming

I See That It Is Possible

Capacity for Disability Inclusion in Gender-based Violence (GBV) Programming in Humanitarian Settings

Women’s Refugee Council

Published: Thursday, 27 June 2013

An examination of the barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from accessing gender-based violence programs, and practices to increase their access.

The estimated 7.6 million persons with disabilities living in forced displacement face tremendous risk of gender-based violence because they are “less able to protect themselves from harm, more dependent on others for survival, less powerful and less visible.” Despite this, persons with disabilities are often excluded from programs and services designed to prevent and respond to GBV in humanitarian settings.

As well as the full report (pdf in English) above, theWomen’s Refugee Council website also has the following available for download in PDF format:

Summary Report in English, French and Arabic

Full Report in English, English (Accessible), French and Arabic

 Toolkit for GBV practitioners in English and Arabic (French to follow)

Stories of Change

Information about Gender based Violence for people with Disabilities in English, French and Arabic

Phase 1 Country reports

Burundi (English), Burundi (French), Ethiopia, Jordan and North Caucasus

Summary Findings

  • Women and girls with mental and intellectual disabilities were perceived to be most at risk of sexual violence, and family and service providers may only become aware of sexual violence against them when they become pregnant.
  • Discrimination by GBV service providers, family and community members was the most common barrier to access. Inadequate transportation and inappropriate communication approaches were also common impediments.


Recommendations for GBV actors

  • Provide training and reflective learning on the intersections between gender and disability for GBV program managers and service providers.
  • Recruit women and girls with disabilities as staff and volunteers in gender-based violence programs, and advocate for their inclusion in community associations.
  • Prioritize the inclusion of persons with disabilities and caregivers in activities that strengthen social capital and peer networks.
  • Set targets for the inclusion of women with disabilities and female caregivers in economic empowerment programming.

Recommendations for disability actors

  • Train staff on gender and gender inequality to strengthen understanding of the different ways that conflict and displacement affect women, girls, boys and men with disabilities.
  • Raise awareness of the GBV risks faced by women and girls with disabilities during crises, and provide training on communicating with survivors. 
  • Foster networking between refugees and displaced persons and organizations of persons with disabilities.

Recommendations for donors and governments

  • Hold humanitarian organizations accountable for addressing the needs of persons with disabilities and caregivers in GBV programs.
  • Advocate for recognition of the full range of disability- and gender-related concerns, including GBV, in all international instruments.