Discrimination starts at birth for women in crisis zones

A worried Syrian woman protecting a little girl A worried Syrian woman protecting a little girl Oxfam Canada

04 October 2020

Humanitarian action plans must take into account gender issues in crisis areas to alleviate the suffering of women and girls

For women and girls involved in conflict, the gap between global progress and the reality of their lives has widened over the last 25 years. Moreover, the Covid-19 crisis has further disrupted the lives of women and girls in conflict areas, and has made it even more urgent to take measures to ensure gender equality.

For many women and girls living in critical settings such as those in which the International Rescue Committee (IRC) operates, gender disadvantages begin at birth. In some countries, children are not registered at birth and without the right documents it becomes more difficult to access basic services such as education and health care. For girls, the situation is aggravated by the high risk of child marriage, which becomes more difficult to prevent when it is not possible to prove their age due to the absence of a birth certificate.

Women and girls in conflict zones are victims of many inequalities and gender norms that make them more vulnerable. Moreover, they are all too often neglected by the actions of international institutions. The IRC claims that gender-based violence must be addressed as a man-made crisis and women's voices must be heard from programme design to peace negotiations. In order to do so, it proposes a feminist approach to take power structures seriously and to remove power imbalances in humanitarian programme.


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Author: Carla Pintor

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