Gender inequality and disasters: The reality
During times of disaster and conflict, women and girls bear the brunt of the crisis due to pre-existing gender inequality – such as discrimination, violence and exclusion. Girls are particularly vulnerable because of their lower status in society.
After the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Nepal on the 25 April 2015 it was identified that 55 per cent of the casualties were female. Emergency aid needs to listen to and recognise the needs of women and girls in the aftermath of the earthquake. Here, we have identified the biggest risks facing women and girls in Nepal.
Threats facing women and girls in Nepal:
• Adolescent girls lack the space to change their clothes and sanitary products in overcrowded tents.
• Adolescent girls have little access to sanitary products with nowhere private to wash.
• Menstruation customs in Nepal, such as living separately during menstrual cycles and refraining from preparing food, prove difficult whilst living in temporary shelters.
• Unwanted pregnancies could increase as sexual health information and contraception are less available.
• The risk of child labour, trafficking, forced prostitution, sexual and gender-based violence and early and forced marriage are likely to increase after the earthqauke.
• Girls feel vulnerable to sexual abuse, harassment and trafficking because they are sharing shelters with extended families and neighbours and strangers roam around temporary shelters.
• Women living under tarps feel exposed to risk of violence.
• Increased alcohol drinking by men increases the risk of gender-based violence and abuse.
• Fewer girls will return to school after the earthquake as they are married or expected to help rebuild and look after small children.
• Girls are more likely to go hungry during food shortages.
• Pregnant women are at higher risk of health and nutrition problems.
Women and girls are strong and resilient, but they still need our help. Aid responses need to identify women and girls as a priority. We're providing a number of protection services to women and girls in Nepal, including running safe spaces for children, community information centres, trafficking awareness programmes and helping to monitor border areas to prevent trafficking.
Women and girls are key to building resilient communities within Nepal.
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