June 8, 2016
Written by Plan International
This post originally appeared on Plan International’s website. Reposted with permission.
Sumita, a 17-year-old from Nepal, recalled the role of girls immediately following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country last April.
“As girls, we did not feel included,” she said. “No one asked for our opinion.”
With the help of Plan International, however, that situation is changing.
The 2015 earthquake in Nepal had a major impact on women and girls. With hundreds and thousands of latrines, canals, and toilets destroyed, lack of water, and poor living conditions, many of these women and girls did not have the privacy they needed, which ultimately had a tremendous impact on both their personal hygiene, and their security.
“All of the houses collapsed and there was no school,” said 16-year-old Shirisha. “We were sharing spaces and had no privacy.”
Recognizing that young adolescent girls aged 12-18 were not actively participating in protection services being offered at the community level, Plan International set up Adolescent-Friendly Spaces throughout Nepal. These safe spaces enabled young girls to come together to share their challenges, discuss private issues, and seek counseling and support from a trained female facilitator.
These spaces also enabled girls to learn about the serious protection risks that they face in the wake of a disaster, including increased risk of child marriage, trafficking, sexual abuse, and exploitation. Each Adolescent-Friendly Space would bring together about 23 girls – married and unmarried, and some pregnant or with young children.