The impact of humanitarian crises is not equal – women and girls bear the brunt of emergencies from food crises to climate-change disasters and conflicts.
From Afghanistan to Sudan, Ukraine to Syria, in humanitarian contexts, women and girls can go hungrier than men, be pulled out of school (sometimes to be married early), or face increased levels of exploitation and violence. It’s crucial that their voices are heard if efforts to prevent and respond to emergencies are to be effective.
What needs to change?
Women and girls must be protected in crises, particularly from sexual and other forms of violence based on their gender, including economic and psychological violence. Their access to sexual and reproductive health services must be guaranteed.
At the same time, women’s organisations must be supported so they can take part in public life at the community, national, and international levels. In this way, they can amplify the voices of the women affected by disasters, poverty, displacement and conflict so women’s needs are better represented in humanitarian responses, at peace negotiating tables, and in civic life more widely.
The Government must ensure that women and girls are truly prioritised in its overseas strategies, and that humanitarian responses account for different experiences depending on someone’s age, ability, and other characteristics. For that, women must be supported to have their voices amplified and their rights realised.
We are calling on the UK Government to:
- Raise women and girls’ voices and opportunities for leadership by increasing support to women-led and women’s rights organisations in humanitarian contexts
- Embed gender equality as a priority in its international development strategy, in action as well as words
- Adopt a holistic approach to gender equality in all programming for women and girls
- Return funding for women and girls in overseas programming lost as a result of aid cuts since 2010, estimated at £1.9 billion
- Increase funding for, and prioritisation of, efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls