More than 26 million women and girls of reproductive age worldwide have been forced away from their homes. 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.
Currently 16 % of the world’s population lives in a country affected by humanitarian crises.
- Over half of preventable maternal and under-five deaths take place in settings of conflict, displacement and natural disasters
- 2/3 of preventable maternal deaths and 45 % of new-born deaths take place in countries affected by recent conflict, natural disaster, or both, where the risk of giving birth is compounded by the heightened incidence of sexual assault, exploitation and harmful practices.
Women and girls’ unique needs and priorities are not treated with the same urgency as shelter, water and food aid in emergency response and recovery efforts. Hence 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 practices, 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