Humanitarian Health Action

Gender e-Learning course helps try deliver equal health care to women, children and men

12 March, 2010 ¦ New York/Geneva -- Efforts to ensure aid workers understand and meet the differing health needs for women, men and children during humanitarian crises have been reinforced by the launch of an innovative online training course by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).

The IASC, a forum involving UN and non-UN partners to coordinate humanitarian assistance, launched its Gender e-Learning Course in New York yesterday. The e-course is based on the IASC Gender Handbook - "Women, girls, boys and men, different needs - equal opportunities" endorsed by the IASC in 2006.

"What the Gender e-Learning Course does is give humanitarian workers a practical tool to understand better how to ensure gender issues are mainstreamed in the services they provide, especially health," says the World Health Organization's Tanja Sleeuwenhoek, co-Chair of the IASC Gender Sub-Working Group E-Learning Initiative Advisory Committee. "This way, we can better understand the different health risks and issues women, men and children face, while at the same time work to ensure equal access to care."

The health of women, girls, boys and men is affected differently in crises due to many factors, including social, cultural and biological. Such risks are greater for women and girls, who are often at increased risk of violence, may be unable to access assistance or face difficulties in making their needs known.

Men may suffer different disadvantages, for example their role as in different situations "protectors" may place a greater responsibility on them for risk-taking during and after a disaster.

"It is crucial for aid workers to take account of the different health needs men, women and children face during emergencies, to recognize the barriers people may face, and to ensure equal access to health care for all people no matter their gender," Mrs Sleeuwenhoek said. "This new Gender e-Learning course can help in this regard."

WHO has worked with its partners within the Global Health Cluster to ensure health aspects are appropriately covered in the new e-Learning tool. More information on the course can be found at

For more information contact:

Tanja Ellen Sleeuwenhoek
Technical officer
Alliances and Partnerships
World Health Organization
Health Action in Crises
Telephone office: +41-22-791-2727