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  • Sexual & Reproductive Health

    Refugee Women Are Carrying More Than An Uncertain Future

    “If we don’t provide safety, we’re throwing women and girls into the hands of smugglers," said Sarah Costa, Executive Director

    How We Are Failing Women and Girls in Humanitarian Emergencies

    Safe abortion care is a blind spot in humanitarian responses and is severely lacking, says Sandra Krause of the Women's Refugee Commission. 

    In Today’s Refugees I Am Finding My Mother’s Memories

    "We heard cases of pregnant women about to deliver who declined medical attention so they could keep moving. In some instances, it was the husbands who pressured their wives against seeking medical help," says Jurate Kazikas, a board member of the Women's Refugee Commission. 

    Intersecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Disability in Humanitarian Settings: Risks, Needs, and Capacities of Refugees with Disabilities in Kenya, Nepal, and Uganda

    Persons with disabilities have historically been deprived of their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) rights. Little is known, however, about the situation for women, men, and adolescents with disabilities in humanitarian settings. The Women’s Refugee Commission led a participatory research project with partners to explore the risks, needs, and barriers for refugees with disabilities to access SRH services, and the practical ways in which these challenges could be addressed.

    Findings showed that refugees with disabilities demonstrated varying degrees of awareness around SRH, especially regarding the reproductive anatomy, family planning, and sexually transmitted infections. Among barriers to accessing services, lack of respect by providers was reported as the most hurtful. Pregnant women with disabilities were often discriminated against by providers and scolded by caregivers for becoming pregnant and bearing children; marital status was a large factor that determined if a pregnancy was accepted. Risks of sexual violence prevailed across sites, especially for persons with intellectual impairments. The ability of women with disabilities to exercise their SRH rights was mixed. Refugees with disabilities showed a mixed understanding of their own rights in relationships and in the pursuit of opportunities.

    Findings speak to the need to realize the SRH rights of refugees with disabilities and build their longer-term SRH capacities.

    Read the full article in Sexuality & Disability.

    Working towards better health in humanitarian crises

    World Humanitarian Day (August 19) "should also be a day to remember the populations living in crises. A Global Evaluation launched last week by the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Reproductive Health in Crises, found that only 43% of the funds requested for reproductive health to served displaced communities had been filled. (IAWG is a group of 18 international organisations including the Women's Refugee Commission.) 

    Women lack access to safe abortions in humanitarian crises

    Efforts to provide safe abortions in countries hit by conflict or disasters are being held back by a lack of information and funding.

    We Can’t Help “Every Woman” if We Forget Refugees

    The women – and girls – most at risk for preventable maternal mortality currently live or soon will in fragile or humanitarian settings. In fact, in the next 15 years, the years covered by the Sustainable Development Goals, more than 60 percent of preventable maternal deaths will claim these women.

    Giving Birth When the Health Center Has Been Washed Away

    What happens if you’re pregnant and start hemorrhaging, but the health care center has been destroyed? In a recent 3-day training of trainers, the WRC addressed exactly this question. 

    Why the ACLU is suing over Catholic groups and abortions for unauthorized immigrants

    Up to 80% of the women and girls fleeing Central America are sexually assaulted during the journey. Once here, they may be prevented from receiving legal contraception and abortion.

    Sexual and reproductive health: An essential element of disaster preparedness and response

    When Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu, it was a grim reminder that sexual and reproductive health must be a mainstay of disaster risk reduction plans. Trust.org.

    Five Years After the Haiti Earthquake, Let’s Prepare for the Next Disaster Before It Strikes

    Five Years After the Haiti Earthquake

    On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people and rendering almost 2 million homeless. Five years later, the country is still struggling to rebuild. Since then, natural disasters have continued, affecting millions more people around the world. Untold thousands have died, been injured or lost their livelihoods as a result.

    Women and girls are particularly vulnerable in disasters. If that is to ever change, steps must be taken before disaster strikes to address the particular needs of women and girls to ensure that they not only survive but maintain their dignity while recovering and rebuilding their lives.

    Disaster Risk Reduction Day: Building Community, Saving Lives

    Disaster Risk Reduction has a very simple premise: don't wait until disaster strikes to protect people from devastation. Crises—both man-made and natural—create waves of displaced people, many of whose communities and resources have been devastated by past disasters. So it is the humanitarian community's responsibility to ensure that forewarned is forearmed, to help displaced populations prepare for future disasters before they strike.

    Conflicts and natural disasters often recur with recognizable and predictable patterns. Every civil war that began since 2003 was in a country that had had a previous civil war.[1] Droughts, storms, floods and earthquakes often revisit the same territories and populations.