August 14, 2017

Facing Famine, Girls And Women Bear The Heaviest Burden

Written by Seema Jalan

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.

We are in the midst of what the United Nations has called the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. The threat of famine and severe food insecurity in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and Nigeria mean that 20 million people – more than the population of the entire state of New York – are facing starvation and the ripple of consequences that come alongside it.

The UN is responding: Agencies across the UN system are coordinating to mobilize support for the countries and people at risk, from the World Food Programme delivering critical food and medical supplies, to the Food and Agriculture Progamme supporting rural families and agriculture activities, to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs mobilizing funds and urging greater access to deliver humanitarian aid.

But crises like these are not gender neutral – and that’s why the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) plays a critical role in humanitarian response. Girls, boys, women and men experience disaster differently. Girls and women have the least power and status, and often at times of crisis, their basic needs are de-prioritized or neglected, and the fulfillment of their essential health and rights – including the ability to plan their family and futures – is left by the wayside. These rights are not only fundamental for a woman to survive in a crisis, they are critical in helping her and her family rebuild their lives afterwards – and eventually thrive.

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