When crises strike, whether from political conflict or natural disaster, collectively we come together and focus on assessing what has been lost – and what needs to be restored: homes rebuilt, livelihoods renewed, education systems put back in place.
While health services are an important part of what organizations provide in humanitarian responses, there is a real lack of basic services that women need after such events – for example access to their normal chosen family planning methods, regular check-ups and other related health services. This gap is particularly devastating to women and girls of child-bearing age, who are disproportionately disadvantaged in times and areas of crisis.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently released their annual State of the World Population report. Currently there are more than 100 million people around the world in need of humanitarian assistance: This is the highest number since WWII. Of those, 26 million are women and girls of child-bearing age. These women and girls face increased risk of sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies, and related health complications.
Currently there are more than 100 million people around the world in need of humanitarian assistance: The highest number since WWII.
Thankfully, many humanitarian interventions are including pregnancy and childbirth care in their responses to crises. Still, more work is required to meet the need. UNFPA provided voluntary contraception options for 20.8 million people in such settings last year; in responding to humanitarian emergencies in 38 countries, they provided reproductive health kits to 35 million people.
We know very well the ripple effect of empowering women and girls. Investing in these types of health services for families affected by disaster can help individuals, communities, and nations withstand the effects of tragedy and speed up the recovery process.
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You can read UNFPA’s State of the World Population report for more information. Your support of UNFPA helps meet the needs and rights of girls and women in crisis settings.