• Cash & Livelihoods

    Peter Biro

    Facts & Figures

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    Education is Hard to Come By

    • In developing countries, girls often have few opportunities to go to school or get a job. In conflict-affected countries their prospects are even more limited.
    • In the world’s conflict zones, 10 million girls are not in school; girls account for only 30 percent of refugees enrolled in secondary school.
    • Many girls lack opportunities to build the self-confidence and negotiating skills they need to assert themselves and make critical decisions about their futures.
    • Education reduces the likelihood of early pregnancy: the more years of schooling, the fewer early pregnancies.
    • It is critical that girls develop practical skills that will help them get work and support themselves when they are older.

    Learn more about our initiative to protect and empower displaced adolescent girls. 

    Threats around Every Corner: Gender-based Violence

    • Worldwide, 50 percent of victims of sexual violence are 15 years old or younger.
    • Displaced girls are even more exposed to exploitation, abuse, and sexual violence.
    • Adolescents in regions affected by conflict and war and who live in unstable situations and camps are highly vulnerable.
    • According to international guidelines, male and female toilets in refugee camps are supposed to be separate and marked as such. The doors are also supposed to have locks to prevent sexual attacks. But these requirements are often not enforced.
    • Camps are often poorly lit, putting girls and women at risk at night, even on their way to the toilet.

    Learn more about gender-based violence in crisis-affected areas and our work to address it.

    Pressure to Get Married Young and Bear Children

    • More than 60 million girls and young women—some as young as 10 years old—in developing countries get married before the age of 18.
    • Young brides are more likely to experience gender-based violence, to drop out of school and to contract sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
    • Many adolescent girls do not have access to critical information about how to stay healthy or plan their families.
    • Once married, they face pressure to bear children soon to prove their womanhood.

    Reproductive Health Risks

    • Because their bodies are not fully developed, adolescent girls are at high risk of facing fatal complications in pregnancy and childbirth or suffering from debilitating injuries like fistula.
    • The risk of pregnancy-related death is twice as high for girls ages 15-19 years and five times higher for girls ages 10-14 years compared to women ages 20-29 years.
    • An infant’s risk of dying in his or her first year of life is 60 per cent higher when the mother is under age 18 than when the mother is 18 or older.
    • Between 6 and 14 percent of all displaced women of reproductive age (15-49 years) could be pregnant at any given time. Fifteen percent of women who are pregnant while fleeing from conflict may experience a life-threatening obstetric complication like the postpartum hemorrhage Aisha suffered. Rarely are services available along the way.
    • As adolescents transition into adulthood, they need programs and services including comprehensive sexuality education, that can help prevent unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy-related death and injury, as well as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

    Learn more about the reproductive health concerns of displaced women and girls and our work.

    Dangers of Collecting Firewood and Cooking Meals

    • At refugee camps, food items like rice, dried beans and grain are distributed. The food needs to be cooked before it can be eaten, but cooking fuel is generally not provided.
    • All things having to do with meals and cooking are considered women’s work, including collecting wood to make fires for cooking.
    • When they go out to collect wood to make fires to cook their families’ meals, women and girls face gender-based violence on a regular basis—from militants, locals and sometimes even men and boys they know from the camp. Authorities rarely do anything to the perpetrators.
    • Cutting down trees for firewood exacerbates environmental degradation and deforestation.
    • The fires that refugees build to cook their food, in their tents or homes, create toxic smoke that lead to respiratory infections that kill more people every year than malaria.
    • Nearly half of deaths among children under five years old from acute lower respiratory infections are due to particulate matter inhaled from indoor air pollution from household solid fuels.

    Read about our Fuel and Firewood Initiative and how we are helping to protect women, girls and families.

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