Humanitarian Settings

silhouette of refugee woman with two children. in front of spike fence

An estimated 67 million women and girls are in need of humanitarian assistance. Impacted by conflict, violence and natural disasters, women and girls in emergencies are at heightened risk of gender-based violence and trafficking, unintended pregnancy, maternal morbidity and mortality, unsafe abortions, and child, early and forced marriage.

Despite the immediate, long-term and largely preventable impacts of these realities, the unique needs, priorities and capacities of women and girls are not treated with the same urgency as shelter, water and food aid in emergency response and recovery efforts, and opportunities to transform unequal gender relations and shift harmful gender norms are being missed. 

A more systematic approach for ensuring that humanitarian action responds to women’s and girls’ rights and needs is within reach. Drawing on emerging initiatives, best-practice, research and the perspectives of affected communities themselves, the following recommendations provide a blueprint for governments, donors, United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, and national and local actors to work in tandem to drive system-level changes and put women’s and girls’ rights and agency at the centre of every humanitarian response:

  • Women’s and girls’ voice and leadership
  • Equitable access to sexual and reproductive health services
  • Prevention and response to gender-based violence
  • Preventing sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse
  • Supporting women’s economic empowerment