Promoting Gender Equality

Protecting Women in Emergency Situations

Humanitarian crises - whether caused by armed conflict or natural disaster - always hurt women and girls the most.

In times of upheaval, pregnancy-related deaths and sexual violence soar. Reproductive health services - including prenatal care, assisted delivery, and emergency obstetric care - often become unavailable. Young people become more vulnerable to HIV infection and sexual exploitation. And many women lose access to family planning services, exposing them to unwanted pregnancy in perilous conditions.

UNFPA Humanitarian Response moves quickly when emergency strikes, to protect the reproductive health of communities in crisis.

HEIGHTENED RISK, GREATER NEED

The impact of armed conflict or natural disaster on reproductive health can be devastating, particularly for women and children.

  • Women and children account for more than 75 per cent of the refugees and displaced persons at risk from war, famine, persecution and natural disaster.
  • Women of reproductive age comprise a quarter of the at-risk population. One in five is likely to be pregnant.
  • Many women forced to flee were already poor or otherwise vulnerable in the first place. Away from their partners and their communities, alone with their children, their vulnerability to sexual exploitation and violence is even higher.
  • Vulnerability to natural disasters is increasing, exacerbated by poverty and environmental destruction. At least 90 per cent of the victims of natural disasters live in developing countries.