August 2017: Violence against Women and Girls in Humanitarian Crises #OrangeDay

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The 25th of every month has been designated “Orange Day” by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women and girls. As a bright and optimistic colour, orange represents a future free from violence against women and girls. Orange Day calls upon civil society, governments, and UN partners to mobilize people and highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), but every month.

In 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through its 17 goals, the 2030 Agenda calls for global action over the next 15 years to address the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. All the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are fully integrated with one another and therefore we cannot think of them in isolation.

SDG 5 recognizes gender equality and the empowerment of women as a key priority pledging that “no one will be left behind.” Building on this vision, throughout 2017, the UNiTE Campaign will mark all Orange Days (the 25th of every month) under the overarching theme “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls” to underscore its commitment towards reaching the most underserved.

 

ORANGE DAY

This Orange Day, 25 August 2017, the UNiTE Campaign focuses on Violence against Women and Girls in Humanitarian Crises.

With continued population growth, urbanization, stretched natural resources, protracted conflict, and the impact of climate change becoming more apparent, the number of humanitarian crises continues to grow, as does the number of communities requiring humanitarian assistance.(1)

For instance, through changing temperatures, precipitation and sea level rises, among other factors, global climate change is already modifying hazard levels and exacerbating disaster risks. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) assessed that from 2005 to 2015, 87 per cent of disasters have been climate related.(2)

Within crises affected communities, women and girls are often disproportionately at risk to the effects of these crises. They are more likely to lose their means of livelihood and face heightened risks of gender-based violence, such as sexual violence, including rape, as well as early marriage and human trafficking due to displacement and the breakdown of the normal structures of protection and support.(3)

Further, in the aftermath of disasters, their specific humanitarian needs are often neither adequately identified nor addressed in the ensuing response by governments and humanitarian agencies alike.(4)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development clearly posits that all women and girls, regardless of their location, situation, and circumstances or migratory status, should be entitled to a life free from violence and its consequences. Any measure taken to achieve Goal 5 and eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls must include those affected by crisis and conflict.

(1) Promoting the rights, need and agency of women and girls in humanitarian action, UN Women, 2016, p.2
(2) Ten-year review finds 87% of disasters climate-related, UNISDR, 2015
(3) Report of the Secretary-General, Trafficking in women and girls, 2016, p.6
(4) Promoting the rights, need and agency of women and girls in humanitarian action, UN Women, 2016, p.2

SOME RELEVANT PROGRAMMES AND PROJECTS:

  • On 25 April 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, followed by another powerful 7.3-magnitude quake on 12 May. In the ongoing response to the earthquakes in Nepal, UN Women worked side-by-side with the government, UN OCHA, other UN agencies, as well as women’s groups to highlight the distinct needs of women and girls, and to promote their role as meaningful participants in the eventual recovery, reconstruction, and development. Find out more about UN Women’s work in humanitarian action here.
  • The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) has established a special funding window that supports organizations which specifically address violence against women and girls in the context of humanitarian crises and disaster response. Under this window, it is currently investing US$2.5 million in five organizations. One of them is the Free Yezidi Foundation. In 2015, the foundation opened a women and children’s center in Dohuk in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The center, located inside a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs), provides targeted assistance, such as individual and group counselling and trauma therapy, to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and other female IDPs. Find out more.
  • In South Sudan, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) coordinates the response to the ongoing sexual violence that continues to take place there, including supporting a referral system that helps direct survivors to post-rape medical care and psychological first aid.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is addressing violence against women through prevention, empowerment and food assistance. WFP seeks to implement food assistance programmes that take the inter-linkages between hunger and gender-based violence into account, such as, for example: distance to and safety of programme sites. The objective is to ensure that programmes are safe and dignified, and to support an overall environment in which violence is reduced and its effects on survivors are mitigated.

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TAKE ACTION THIS ORANGE DAY!

  • Organize an Orange Charity 5K Run, a Zumba-thon or a charity soccer game. Partner with your local sports club and request pledges based on distance and time!
  • Volunteer your skills! Reach out to a local organization in your community that addresses the issue of violence against women and girls affected by crisis, or check out online opportunities offered by many organizations, such as the International Red Cross or catchafire.org, to support their work in the field.
  • Help us raise awareness about the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian crises. Share our sample social media messages and write or tweet your country’s leader and ask them to commit to humanitarian action that includes women and girls!

USEFUL RESOURCES

  • This free online course by UN Women provides guidance on the fundamentals of applying gender equality in humanitarian programming and response, including: in camp management and coordination, education, food security, gender-based violence,
  • UNFPA has recently launched an updated version of its free online course on “Managing Gender-Based Violence Programmes in Emergencies.” The course targets new or emerging gender-based violence (GBV) specialists, humanitarian or development practitioners, and anyone who wants to increase their knowledge around GBV prevention and response in emergencies.sdg5a

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