“Women and adolescent girls also face much greater risk of abuse, sexual exploitation, violence and forced marriage during conflicts and natural disasters,” a United Nations official announced marking the World Population Day.
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, called on “the international community to redouble efforts to protect the health and rights of women and girls. We must enable women, adolescent girls and young people to play their full role in peace talks, peace building and recovery, and to ensure that governments comply with international law and bring perpetrators of sexual violence to justice."
A recent United Nations report warns that the number of forcibly displaced people has risen to a record number – almost 60 million at the end of 2014. Among these, most women and adolescent girls face particular threats as a result of the absence of health and other essential services that they need.
Osotimehin said in a statement “In humanitarian situations, an estimated one in five women and adolescent girls are likely to be pregnant. As skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care often become unavailable, pregnant women’s and girls’ vulnerability to death and injury is further exacerbated.”
“Many women who survive a crisis become heads of household, with the sole responsibility of caring for their children. They often have to overcome immense obstacles to provide health and care for children, the sick, the injured and the elderly, and bear the heaviest burden of relief and reconstruction. As a result, they may neglect their own needs as they care for others.”
“The complex emergencies we are responding to include protracted conflicts, made worse by poor or failed governance, the consequences of climate change, and the engagement of extremist groups claiming territory, resources and power.”
Osotimehin said: “That is why the theme of this World Population Day, ‘Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies’, is intended to highlight the special needs of women and adolescent girls during conflicts and humanitarian disasters.”