OTTAWA – More than 30 leading international agencies and women’s rights organizations are calling on G7 Foreign Ministers to act to uphold the rights of women and girls in emergencies.
Ahead of the G7 Foreign Minister’s meeting in Dinard, France, April 5-6, the joint statement and recommendations call on governments, donors, United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, and national and local actors to work together to put women’s and girls’ rights and agency at the centre of every humanitarian response.
“As foreign ministers discuss how to respond to the increasing number of emergencies around the world, it’s vital they take into account the experiences of women and girls who are too often forgotten,” said Caroline Kende-Robb, secretary general of CARE International.
“Conflicts and natural disasters amplify the risks women and girls face. Whether we’re talking about survivors of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, women living under the threat of war in Yemen, or Rohingya refugees forced to flee Myanmar, we must ensure the needs and rights of women and girls are protected. This is not only to save lives, but to respect the critical roles women are already playing to help their communities overcome crisis.”
In May 2018, Canada joined G7 countries in signing the Whistler Declaration on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action and the Whistler Declaration on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in International Assistance. Since then, CARE Canada has been working with parliamentarians, humanitarian organizations, advocacy groups and partners in Canada and abroad to put these declarations into concrete and measurable action.
An estimated 67 million women and girls are in need of humanitarian assistance. Impacted by conflict, violence and natural disasters, women and girls in emergencies are at heightened risk of gender-based violence and trafficking, unintended pregnancy, maternal morbidity and mortality, unsafe abortions, and child, early and forced marriage.
Despite the immediate, long-term and largely preventable impacts of these realities, the unique needs, priorities and capacities of women and girls are not treated with the same urgency as shelter, water and food aid in emergency response and recovery efforts, and opportunities to transform unequal gender relations and shift harmful gender norms are being missed.
In the year of the 25th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, and as the world prepares to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325, it is high-time that the international community rally together to uphold women’s and girls’ rights where they are furthest behind: in conflict and emergency settings.
A more systematic approach for ensuring that humanitarian action responds to women’s and girls’ rights and needs is within reach.
The full statement includes recommendations in the areas of:
- Women’s and girl’s voice and leadership
- Equitable access to sexual and reproductive health services
- Prevention and response to gender-based violence
- Preventing sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse
- Supporting women’s economic empowerment
Read the full text: Women’s and girls’ rights and agency in humanitarian action – A life-saving priority [PDF link]
The following agencies have endorsed the statement and recommendations:
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, Action contre la Faim, ActionAid, ActionAid UK, Canadian Council for International Co-operation, CARE International, Center for Democratic Education, Center for Reproductive Rights, Centro de Estudios e Investigación sobre Mujeres (CEIM), Community Partners International, Countdown 2030 Europe, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung, Doctors of the World – Greece, European Network of Migrant Women (ENOMW), federación planificación familiar estatal, Global Citizen, Humanity and Inclusion – Handicap International, Indigenous Refugees Movement, International Center for Research On Women, International Medical Corps, International Planned Parenthood Association, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief Canada, KULU-Women and Development, Legal Action Worldwide, Marie Stopes International, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children Canada, Sex og Politikk (IPPF Norway), War Child Canada, WIDE – Network for Women’s Rights and Feminist Perspectives in Development (Austria), WIDE+ (Women In Development Europe+), Women Deliver, Women Empowerment Organization, Women’s Refugee Commission.
Communications Specialist | CARE Canada
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