A Practice-based Approach to Gender-based Violence in Crises

April 22, 2017 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Columbia School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Ave., New York 10027

Event Organizer

Office of Professional Excellence

6.5 contact hours are available for NYS, NJ and CT Licensed Social Workers

$250 single; $200 each for 5 or more

Alumni will receive a $50 discount. Please email swope@columbia.edu for the promotional code. Your email should contain your name and the year you graduated.

*Open to the public



The problem of gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian settings has gained traction in recent years, with increased attention to the risk and severity of violence women and girls face in crises such as Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Nigeria, and Nepal. Gradually, this has led to recognition of how conflict and natural disasters can increase women and girls’ exposure to abuses in the long term.

Despite this, many humanitarian actors and policymakers do not yet view violence against women and girls as an issue that warrants urgent response during emergencies. In most emergency settings, the inclusion and deployment of individuals with the technical skills to address GBV, and provide life-saving services from the earliest stages of a response, are often not prioritized. The provision of these services is not seen to be critical in the manner that the provision of food, water, and shelter are. It has become clear that, in those contexts in which GBV is addressed, those best positioned to do so, with the practical skill set required to meet a range of specialized needs, are often trained social workers: those with the knowledge and capacity to meaningfully assess needs, develop plans of action, safely follow-up, respect confidentiality and informed consent, and ensure the dignity of the client/survivor are at the forefront of any response.

Workshop Description

This course will build on the principles of social work-driven ecological and eco-systemic considerations and frameworks in addressing GBV in emergency contexts: promoting support to an individual, but in consideration of relevant relationships and influencing factors, and in the context of their surrounding environment. The topics included in the workshop will build on already existing foundational knowledge of the participants of basic psycho-social factors and the fundamentals of case management. The case management approach is useful for clients with complex and multiple needs who access services from a range of service providers, organizations, and groups. The course will demonstrate how the basics of case management (as a collaborative, multidisciplinary process which assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates options and services to meet an individual’s needs through communication and available resources to promote quality, effective outcomes), can and should be applied to working with survivors, and those at risk, of GBV in crises and emergencies.

Learning Objectives

Participants will learn to:

  • Recognize different characteristics of natural and human-made disasters, and how they create diverse challenges and impact emergency response.
  • Understand how emergency settings – conflict, natural disaster, or a combination of the two – impact women and girls’ vulnerability to violence and contribute to an increase and amplification of GBV.
  • Understand the psychosocial impact of GBV.
  • Identify the most appropriate psychosocial approaches in emergency settings.
  • Adapt and use appropriate social work-based steps of case management and identify the interventions and skills that are possible and applicable during emergency response.
  • Generate and prioritize recommendations for action, in line with international best practices.


Elizabeth (Liz) Pender is the Senior Gender-based Violence/Humanitarian Protection Advisor with the US Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. Since starting with OFDA, Liz has provided technical support to OFDA-funded programs in Nigeria, Ukraine, Iraq and Syria, while also managing OFDA’s global engagement on the GBV Call to Action and Safe from the Start initiatives. Before coming to OFDA, Liz was the Senior GBV Coordinator with UNFPA in Myanmar (Burma), managing and coordinating UNFPA’s GBV Programs in Kachin and Rakhine States, and leading the GBV Sub-cluster for the overall humanitarian response at the regional and national levels.
From 2010 to 2013, Liz was the Women’s Protection and Empowerment (WPE) Senior Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee’s Emergency Response Team. While with IRC, Liz was deployed to several conflict and natural disaster responses in Pakistan, Libya, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya (Dada’ab), Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Lebanon (Syrian refugee response), to design and support WPE emergency responses in each location. Prior to assuming that role, Liz, as a member of the Norwegian Refugee Council Emergency Gender Capacity Roster (GenCap) for several years, was seconded to the UN as an Emergency Gender/GBV Advisor to the Humanitarian Coordinators and cluster leads in Darfur, Burma/Myanmar, and Zimbabwe. Liz has also worked in multiple conflict-affected regions on Gender-based Violence programming, coordination, and advocacy including Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, and Chechnya. Liz holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) from CSSW with a focus on international social welfare.