Today is World Humanitarian Day: a day that commemorates people who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and celebrates the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about humanitarian emergencies and conflicts and what can be done to support humanitarian aid workers and people living in crisis situations.
For World Humanitarian Day this year, the Huffington Post produced a blog series covering a range of issues focused on the day’s theme: “The World Needs More…”
It got me thinking about what there needs to be more of to provide better services to women and girls in emergency situations, and how to keep humanitarian aid workers safe.
In the last year, several large-scale emergencies occurred that required enormous amounts of resources—money, supplies and aid workers. Currently, there aren’t enough humanitarian responders who can be deployed in a crisis, especially those who are trained to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Ensuring that measures to respond to gender-based violence are established within the first 72 hours of an emergency is essential to preventing further risk of violence.
An increase in humanitarian workers who are specifically trained to set up and implement programs to prevent gender-based violence can serve the broader emergency response, as well as help keep women and girls safe. While governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations’ agencies have committed to the Call to Action on Protecting Girls and Women in Emergencies, there are still gaps that need to be addressed, including funding for and training of additional staff who can quickly respond to emergencies. We know that in emergency situations, the desire to delay or avoid pregnancy increases. As part of protecting girls and women in emergencies, we must be sure that they can exercise their right to access comprehensive family planning and reproductive health supplies and services.
On this World Humanitarian Day, PAI is thankful to the thousands of people who dedicate their lives to helping others—but we know they can’t continue at this pace without additional support. Yes, the world needs more. More humanitarian assistance, more humanitarian workers, more compassion. We all need to do more to ensure women and girls in emergency settings can get what they need.