News

Local & Inclusive: Women and Girls with Disabilities at the Centre of Emergency Preparedness and Response in the Pacific

3 February 2020

The Pacific is characterized by rates of gender-based violence up to twice the global average and these rates are 2-3 times higher for women with disabilities. A conflation of the increase in violence during emergencies and the lack of disability inclusion in Pacific humanitarian preparedness and response efforts place women with disabilities in a position of extreme vulnerability.

Through the Asia Pacific Regional Prepositioning Initiative, supported by the Australian Government, UNFPA in partnership with the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Pacific Disability Forum, have created a unique partnership to support local alliances. These alliances will build the resilience of institutional and human capacities required to ensure the best possible support for disability inclusion in humanitarian preparedness, response and recovery for women and girls, with a particular focus on Gender based Violence in Emergencies (GBViE).

A cornerstone of GBViE programmes is the distribution of Dignity Kits to women and girls. Dignity Kits provide women and girls with a range of essential hygiene and sanitation items including clothing, sanitary pads, soap and underwear to ensure that they maintain their dignity in crisis, are able to access humanitarian assistance and are less vulnerable to GBV. The kits also contain protection items such as flashlights and whistles that can make women feel more secure when staying in a temporary shelter. Dignity Kits provide a key entry point to the community of women and girls in crisis to understand their needs, concerns and vulnerabilities as well as serving as an opportunity to deliver messages around service delivery points for health and GBV as well as prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.

A focus of the alliances moving forward will be the adaptation of Dignity Kits to the specific needs of women and girls with disabilities and development of strategies on effective distribution plans that link to essential information and lifesaving services by placing them at the center of emergency preparedness and response in their communities to ensure their health, wellbeing, dignity, protection and rights.