As is always the case in the aftermath of an environmental disaster, women and children are particularly vulnerable and there are women-specific needs that are generally inadequately addressed by aid organizations, such as protection from violence in refugee camps, maternity needs, and providing feminine hygiene supplies. There are a number or agencies working full tilt to provide aid to those affected by the flood (CARE, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, the Red Cross). Organizations that are particularly responsive to the needs of women include the Global Fund for Women and Madre.
In addition, via Isis International, I received an email about the efforts of a young Pakistani women’s organization, Aware Girls, that is working to meet the needs of young women impacted by the flood. Gulalai Ismail, the organization’s Chairperson writes,
The Flood affected communities are struggling for their survival. Their habitats have been destroyed, they have lost their livelihood. In such circumstances in the patriarchal societies adolescent girls do not get proper attention to fulfill their specific needs, they are ignored by the Humanitarian support programs and even local philanthropists as their needs are not taken as an important issue. Diarrhea and other water related diseases are very common, the water has become contaminated, access to safe sanitation lacks. The young women and adolescent girls have little access to nutritious food. This program is focusing on these specific issues of young women. This program will supplement the ongoing support programs by UN agencies and other Support Programs in the area.
AWARE GIRLS is membership Organization and it has membership from the flood affected areas. The members from the target area have asked the organization to work for addressing the specific needs of the young and adolescents women. AWARE GIRLS is young women led organization working for the rights and development of young women of the Province.
The young women can feel the sufferings and problems of young women. AWARE GIRLS has already worked for Internally displaced Young women by providing them support KITS, raising voice for Gender Cluster, and developing Research Report for Mainstreaming Gender in Humanitarian work in the North Western Pakistan.
In the Gender neutral relief, rehabilitation efforts the specific needs of Adolescents Girls are ignored such that the use of unhygienic cloth for sanitary purpose during menses period may cause of spread of further diseases among the affected population. The young women have a little access to the relief and support provided by the Relief organizations because of patriarchal culture.
There is an urgent need to move from gender blindness to gender sensitivity in helping the victims of this disaster. it is imperative to ensure that a gender perspective is included in the disaster management programs so that the relief efforts are able to properly address Young women’s needs such that;
- Fulfilling women specific requirements, such as sanitary pads /towels and clean white cloth and underwear,
- Providing Contraceptives, blankets and clothes,
- Toiletries: toilet rolls, soaps, shampoo, Towels,
- Nutritional supplements (multi vitamins, iron etc)
- Clean drinking water
- Ware cleaning tablets
We have developed a KIT fulfilling these specific needs of young women. One KIT Costs 30 USD. We are Generating resources to approach 5,000 Young women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and fulfil their needs.
If you are able to help with this effort, please contact Aware Girls here. At this time, the best way to donate money to Aware Girls is via Western Union, please contact them for details.
Many thanks to Aware Girls for sharing these photographs which were taken in Northwestern Pakistan by Aware Girl supporters.