Girls in emergencies

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

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 earlybecome 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. 

Real Choices, Real Lives: Climate change and girls’ education

The latest in our Real Choices, Real Lives research series explores the effects of climate change on girls’ education

By hearing from girls directly, we have learned their ideas for mitigation and adaptation: their demands for safer schools and an improved curriculum, so they can adapt and continue to learn.

Girls’ needs are overlooked

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. 

Adolescent girls in crises also tell us they have little to no information about their sexual and reproductive health. They face barriers to accessing services including contraception and menstrual health products.  

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.  

Gender-transformative change in emergencies

Our gender-transformative approach focuses on tackling the root causes of gender inequality and exclusion and reshaping unequal gender and power relations to realise girls’ rights and equality between all children, young people and adults regardless of their gender and other intersecting identities. 

Upholding girls’ rights during disasters

We are advocating at a global level to ensure the needs and rights of girls are included in disaster 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. 

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