The Age, Gender and Diversity Approach
All human populations are made up of individuals, each of whom possesses a unique profile and capacities. In humanitarian response, it is important to take these differences into account, not only because they may give rise to specific protection risks, but also because they can often be leveraged to improve the situation of those affected.
Through the systematic application of an Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD) approach, humanitarian actors seek to ensure that all individuals in affected communities have access to their rights on an equal footing. Applying an AGD approach is not an add on: it is a core element of fair and equal protection. By analyzing the AGD dimensions as interlinked personal characteristics, we are able to better understand the multifaceted protection risks and capacities of individuals and communities, and to address and support these more effectively. By promoting respect for differences as an enriching element of any community, we promote progress toward a situation of full equality. Equality means respect for all. It includes the promotion of equal opportunities for people with different needs and abilities and direct, measurable actions to combat inequality and discrimination.
The Age, Gender and Diversity elements can be defined as follows:
AGE refers to the different stages in one’s life cycle. It is important for protection programming to be aware of where people are in their life cycle as their capacities and needs change over time. Age influences, and can enhance or diminish, a person’s capacity to exercise his or her rights. The protection risks affect an individual differently depending on age.
GENDER refers to the socially constructed roles for women, girls, men and boys. Gender roles are learned, changeable over time, and variable within and between cultures. Gender often defines the duties, responsibilities, constraints, opportunities and privileges of women, girls, men and boys in any context. Gender equality refers to the equal enjoyment of their rights, responsibilities and opportunities and it implies that the interests, needs and priorities of each gender are respected.
DIVERSITY refers to different values, attitudes, cultural perspectives, beliefs, ethnic background, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, health, social status, skill and other specific personal characteristics. While the age and gender dimensions are present in everyone, other characteristics vary from person to person. These differences must be recognized, understood and valued by humanitarian actors in each emergency in order to ensure protection for all affected people.