Girls in emergencies | Plan International Skip to main content

Girls in emergencies

We believe adolescent girls’ specific needs must be addressed to reduce the impact of disaster and help them reach their potential.

Voices from the Lake Chad basin
Girls make their way to school in Niger. though many are forced to drop out due to early marriage.

Our research shows that adolescent girls are one of the groups most at risk when disasters strike.

As a result of existing gender inequality and discrimination, adolescent girls are more likely to drop out of school, suffer from violence and discrimination, marry early, become pregnant and lose their livelihoods during disasters. In short, disasters stand in the way of girls’ ability to reach their potential and thrive.

Disasters overwhelmingly affect the countries that can least afford to deal with them – 9 out of 10 take place in the developing world. 

Girls’ needs overlooked

Get our newsletter to learn about our work with girls Risks faced by children and their communities, both natural and human induced shocks and stresses, are escalating. Increasing vulnerability and exposure, combined with the impacts of climate change and conflict, threaten development progress and the fulfilment of children’s rights. 

Adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to disasters as they begin to assume adult responsibilities and roles without the key skills and networks adults have. Moreover, adolescent girls are often overlooked and excluded from protection responses, which fail to address their unique vulnerabilities.

These issues have devastating effects on girls’ education, making them less likely to access life-saving information, such as where to go in the event of a disaster, or how climate change impacts lives. 

2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

From May 13 - 17, governments, private sector, INGOs and academics will come together to discuss implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015 – 2030).

The Sendai Framework outlines the 7 global targets to reduce disaster risk and build resilience. However, Plan International believes further effort to ensure children’s - especially girls’ - rights, is essential, before, during and after disasters. 

This year the Global Platform for DRR is hosted by the Government of Switzerland with over 4,000 participants from 180 countries expected to attend. This year the thematic focus of the Global Platform is Resilience Dividend: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Societies.

Plan International is co-organising three side events:

Please contact Jacobo Ocharan or Jess Cooke for further information. 

Upholding rights during disasters

Maya presenting in an adolescent-friendly space, Nepal
Maya*, 16, is a young mother who attends an adolescent-friendly space in Dolakha district, Nepal.

We are advocating at global level to ensure the needs and rights of girls are included in disasters policy and programmes. This includes changing attitudes that cause gender-based violence, providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and ensuring economic opportunities.

Following emergencies, we support girls’ immediate needs and their rights. After the Nepal earthquakes in 2015 we introduced adolescent-friendly spaces. These spaces keep girls safe and allow them to openly discuss key issues such as sexual health. They also allow the needs of girls who are married, pregnant or young mothers to be addressed in a secure environment.

Addressing adolescent girls’ specific needs is essential to reduce the impact of crises and ensure girls are able to thrive.