The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network.
Our secretariat supports local Red Cross and Red Crescent action in more than 192 countries, bringing together almost 15 million volunteers for the good of humanity.
Around the world, millions of women and girls* face stigma, exclusion and discrimination simply because of one perfectly natural bodily function: their periods. Negative attitudes and misinformation about periods limit women and girls’ potential. Too often they miss out on education and employment—either due to a lack of hygiene facilities and products to easily go about their daily lives while menstruating, or because they are weighed down by fear of shame and embarrassment from their communities. Women and girls’ safety is also at risk. Without proper hygiene facilities, women can be forced to go into the open to deal with their period needs—leaving them exposed to physical danger and psychological harm. And in extreme cases, period stigma has tragically claimed women and girls’ lives. At the IFRC, #WeAreCommitted to challenging period stigma, exclusion and discrimination and to improving the menstrual hygiene management (MHM) knowledge, skills and programming of our National Societies. We’re working to raise MHM standards across our network—both as part of our long-term water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes, but also during emergency response. Because periods don’t stop in an emergency! We focus on three main areas: Providing pads and menstrual health items as part of our relief assistance Community engagement to demystify periods, educate women and girls on how to manage them safely, and challenge negative attitudes—especially among men and boys. This also involves advocating for more and better MHM activities with governments. Setting up WASH facilities designed with the additional needs of menstruating women and girls in mind. Many of our National Societies are already doing fantastic work in this area. Let’s look at some of them! Lebanon With support from Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the Lebanese Red Cross has partnered with the IFRC, British Red Cross and consulting firm ARUP to develop inclusive and MHM-friendly latrines and bathing/laundering facilities. They focused on women living in informal tented settlements near the Syrian border. Speaking to women in the settlements, Lebanese Red Cross teams learned that women mainly use disposable pads during their periods, or a cloth in an emergency, which they burn after a single use. Women explained if they had a safe, accessible and private space to use that was separated from men’s facilities and had discrete disposal methods, they would put their used pads in the bin. Based on this feedback, the Lebanese Red Cross piloted technical designs for emergency WASH facilities that took these women’s needs into account. They developed a manual that can be adapted and used by other National Societies and partners—which includes recommendations of how to best engage with women and girls about their period needs in a sensitive and effective way. Click here to read more about the project. Pakistan Although menstruation is considered natural and a sign of maturity for women in Pakistan, it’s also seen as dirty, shameful and something to be dealt with in silence. Men are generally responsible for deciding on the menstrual health facilities and services offered to women and girls, but rarely involve or consult them on their needs. The Swiss Red Cross worked with Aga Khan University in Pakistan to set up special MHM corners within hospitals—safe spaces in which women and girls could receive information and counselling about menstrual hygiene and reproductive health. They ran pad-making sessions with men and women to raise awareness of good hygiene practices. And they identified influential ‘MHM champions’ who are now spreading this knowledge and tackling period stigma within their communities. Malawi For many girls in Malawi, managing their periods continues to be a challenge due to a lack of access to information, sanitary products, and adequate WASH facilities—particularly in schools. The Malawi Red Cross Society, with support from the Swiss Red Cross, conducted mixed-method research with more than 500 school students to understand girls’ and boys’ knowledge, attitudes and practices around periods. They discovered that: More than half of the girls they spoke to had never heard about menstruation before it started Girls with increased knowledge used better MHM practices and skipped school less Interestingly, boys’ increased knowledge about MHM was associated with higher levels of teasing, and with more absenteeism of girls during their periods The Malawi Red Cross Society has since used this research to inform their work in MHM so it better meets girls’ needs. They’ve constructed female-friendly toilets in schools, produced reusable menstrual hygiene products, delivered training to teachers and parents’ groups and advocated for more menstrual health activities at the community and district level. Argentina During the COVID-19 pandemic, transgender people in Argentina were found to be having difficulty accessing menstrual hygiene items. In close coordination with two local specialist organizations which support and advocate for transgender people, the Argentine Red Cross distributed hygiene kits which included sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups. Transgender men provided recommendations and selected appropriate menstrual items for the kits. Distribution of the kits was accompanied with virtual workshops on sexual health and correct use of menstrual cups. The Argentine Red Cross also set up a health advisory line to offer psychosocial support to anyone who needed it. Learning resources and more information about MHM: Discover even more case studies from our National Societies’ MHM activities in this collection Explore our wealth of practical guidance, tools and advocacy resources on menstrual hygiene on our dedicated WASH site here Visit the dedicated WASH page on the IFRC website Visit the global Menstrual Hygiene Day campaign page for more information about this year’s theme Contact our Senior Officer for WASH in Public Health, Alexandra Machado, for any MHM-related questions: [email protected] -- *We recognize that not everyone who menstruates identifies as a woman, and that not all women menstruate.
Jakarta, 25 May 2022 -The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have committed to promoting and developing their engagement in disaster management with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ASEAN and the IFRC on the Strengthening of Community Resilience in Southeast Asia. The MOU outlines the scope and areas of cooperation between the IFRC and ASEAN to strengthen community resilience at regional, national, and local levels in the ASEAN region, including in areas such as disaster management, disaster risk reduction, disaster law, health in emergencies, disaster relief and emergency response, gender, youth, and climate change. This agreement also marks a significant milestone in ASEAN’s longstanding cooperation with the IFRC which has supported the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) in the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) and its work programmes. The MOU was signed by the ASEAN Secretary-General H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi and the IFRC Secretary General, Mr. Jagan Chapagain, at the sidelines of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) in Bali, Indonesia, in the presence of the representatives of the ACDM and the representatives of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. At the Signing Ceremony, the two leaders expressed appreciation over the progress of cooperation between ASEAN and the IFRC. Recognizing ASEAN and IFRC’s mutually beneficial roles in strengthening climate adaptation and disaster resilience in vulnerable communities in Southeast Asia, both ASEAN and the IFRC look forward to the implementation of the MOU through collaborative projects in the AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025. In his remarks, Dato Lim emphasized that “in the face of increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters due to climate change, in one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions, coupled with an increasingly complex humanitarian landscape, we must build strategic partnerships to enhance our resilience as one ASEAN community.” In Mr. Chapagain’s speech reiterated that “through this partnership our common goal is to put communities in Southeast Asia at the centre by building individual and community capacities that help reduce humanitarian needs and avert loss and damage caused by the climate crisis." ASEAN countries are located in one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, ranging from earthquakes, floods, landslides and typhoons. The wide geographic stretch of incidences and increasing frequency and intensity of disasters due to climate change require ASEAN to enhance the region’s readiness and emergency response capacity. -- For more information, please email [email protected]
IFRC report: Goals for poverty reduction, decent work and closing inequality gap, stalled by COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean
Panama City, May 20, 2022 - The devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have stalled some of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is unlikely that the region will end poverty, ensure gender equality, promote decent and equitable work, and reduce inequality within and between countries by the target date of 2030. This is one of the main findings of "Readjusting the path towards equity," a recent study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The report confirms that COVID-19 increased unemployment, reduced the income of the poorest families, forced more than one million children to leave school, reduced labour protection and worsened inequality and gender violence. Head of IFRC's Disaster, Climate and Crisis unit in the Americas, Roger Alonso, said: "This study helps us understand the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people’s income, access to food and well-being. The findings underline the fact that a full social and economic recovery will take years. To avoid irreversible levels of vulnerability, it is crucial to implement an inclusive and fair recovery, which also anticipates the effects of the current food and fuel price increases resulting from the conflict in Ukraine." According to the report, the loss of income of the poorest populations increased food insecurity resulting in 60 million people suffering from hunger in the first year of the pandemic. That same year, 23 million women were pushed into poverty and since then, cases of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking have increased. In addition, 10% of jobs in the region were lost during the pandemic, and 30% of these have not yet been recovered. Meanwhile, 51% of the migrant population surveyed by IFRC said they lost their jobs and 53% of those who kept them, saw their income reduced or were not paid. This IFRC analysis is based on literature review, interviews with experts and representatives of international organizations, as well as 1,825 surveys conducted in Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Venezuela. Co-author of the report and IFRC Livelihoods Recovery Officer in the Americas, Daniela Funez, said: ''Listening to the communities we serve is a priority for the Red Cross network. That's what allows us to know their needs in depth and, in this case, the data they provided us confirms the projections made by international agencies about the effects of COVID-19 on the SDGs'." To address the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, the IFRC suggests prioritizing attention to the most vulnerable groups, incorporating a gender approach in humanitarian action and contributing to reducing the effects of climate change. It also calls for increased investment in vaccination, protection and livelihood protection, a key issue to close the 60% funding gap needed to continue responding to the medium and long-term effects of COVID-19. For more information: In Bogota:David Quijano +57 310 5592559,[email protected] In Panama:Susana Arroyo Barrantes,[email protected]
I am honoured to submit this Official Statement on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The GP2022 theme, “From Risk to Resilience: Towards Sustainable Development for All in a COVID-19 Transformed World” could not be more relevant to us as we face growing needs and an uncertain future. COVID-19 has already taken more than 6.2 million lives and has increased vulnerabilities worldwide, particularly among women, children, elders, and persons with disabilities. At the same time, more people are under threat from the climate crisis, conflict, disaster, and disease. The humanitarian needs of 2022 will be, at least, double what they were in 2019. Today we are at a critical juncture. Not only must we recover fully from this pandemic, but we must also review our readiness and change our modus operandi to proactively deal with future risks. We must move from responding to crises, to building individual and community capacities to anticipate, prepare for, reduce the impact, cope with and recover from crises. This must be done without compromising their long-term prospects, in other words, strengthening their resilience to future risks. To achieve this, IFRC calls for collective action in the following areas: First, we must inspire community action that revolutionises positive change. Communities have agency, self-reliance and their own hopes and plans for the future. Our efforts will only benefit them if we centre their priorities, experiences and expertise, and support their actions. We have to support communities to come together to tackle the challenges that they are currently facing, and prepare for those that lie ahead. Funding and partnerships need to support individuals and communities to understand their risks, take action to address them, and participate in official decision-making processes. Local actors such as National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are critical to informing and channeling investments to the right places, to those most in need, where scarce resources can have the greatest impact. They need to be in the driver’s seat of change, and this includes women and youth. Second, trust the science. We must listen to the science and use it to plan for and protect against future risks. Extreme climate and weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense, affecting new places with many hazards striking at the same time. We can’t use what happened in the past to predict the future. We have to trust and act upon the science. This must be our standard way of working. Anticipatory action that puts communities at the centre must be the new normal if we want to reduce humanitarian needs, avert loss and damage caused by climate change. Third, leverage the power of partnerships. We can only become more resilient if we collaborate together but this means working more broadly than the humanitarian, development and climate sectors. We must also look to the private and public sectors, local governments, grassroots communities and further – we are trying to overcome the same challenges but with different means. How can the private sector engage in ways that drive social impact? How can governments lead change with enabling frameworks? How do humanitarian agencies embrace agility in their business models? Together with our partners, we have taken various initiatives, including the Anticipatory Action Task Force, Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), the Anticipation Hub, the Country Support Platform of the Global Taskforce for Cholera Control, and the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP), which we call on our partners to join. Fourth, we must change the way we do business. People-centred partnerships towards achieving the SDGs will require new approaches to programming and donor funding. These must allow the private sector to meaningfully engage and demonstrate the value of structures that can be more sustainable, replicable, and scalable to address growing humanitarian and development needs. Developing countries will need more than USD 2.5 trillion a year to fill the SDG financing gap, but there is only some USD 150 billion of total overseas development assistance available. However, private capital sources alone amount to more than USD 200 trillion. We need to consider smart financing that helps donated resources reach further, by creating multiplier opportunities. At all times, communities must be at the heart of decisions made in investment and programming for inclusive disaster risk reduction, epidemic and pandemic preparedness, and climate change adaptation. The communities most vulnerable to disasters, as well as fragile and conflict affected settings and those displaced or at risk of displacement, must be prioritized. Governments can assist by ensuring that national disaster and climate laws, policies, financial instruments, and plans all include a focus on reducing risks for the most vulnerable people. In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, IFRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have made good use of the preparedness capacity built over the years. From the outset, we have met the growing health needs and demands of vulnerable communities, building on local solutions and leveraging National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ role as independent auxiliaries to their governments in the humanitarian arena. In the past two years, the IFRC network supported nearly 1.2 billion people through our COVID-19 programmes. This support has included risk communication, community engagement activities for health and hygiene promotion, water and sanitation, and food and cash assistance. And beyond our emergency response, our National Societies reached 139 million people through pandemic-proof disaster risk reduction programming, using the IFRC’s guide for “Climate-smart disaster risk management programming during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Rest assured we will continue our efforts to create a culture of prevention and resilience by mobilizing our global network of 192 National Societies, 160,000 local branches and 14.9 million community-based volunteers. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Indonesian Government and the Indonesian Red Cross for their great efforts to protect people and their livelihoods from disasters and crises. Thank you, and I wish you a successful Global Platform.
New York / Geneva, 16 May 2022 – President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca calls on states to step up to their responsibility to save lives, no matter where people are from, ahead of the first review of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM). Mr Rocca says: “When I was in Marrakech for the adoption of the GCM I made a statement that the world’s approach to migration is painfully broken – but that the GCM can fix it. As we begin the first review of the progress made since then, I am sad to say that this has not been the case so far. Not enough changes to policies and practices to ensure safe and dignified migration have taken place, and many more lives have been lost due to that failure to act.” On the world’s deadliest sea migration route, the central Mediterranean, the number of deaths has in fact increased since the GCM was signed. The Ocean Viking ship, operated by SOS Mediterranée with IFRC providing humanitarian services on board, saves people in distress on this route. “We need to carry out this work as state-coordinated search and rescue is absent in the area,” says Mr Rocca. “Our teams have already saved 1,260 people in the nine months we’ve been operating.” The Ocean Viking is one of the 330 Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs) in 45 countries that supports the ambitions of the GCM, providing assistance and protection to people on the move irrespective of status and without fear of reprisal. The Romanian Red Cross implements HSPs in Bucharest to support people fleeing Ukraine, providing information, food, water, hygiene items and financial assistance, while the Hungarian Red Cross has been operating a HSP at the Keleti railway station 24/7 to welcome people arriving from Ukraine by train with information, food, hygiene items and baby care products. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colombian Red Cross Society has implemented HSPs at the border with Venezuela, offering essential services like healthcare, while Libyan Red Crescent volunteers have provided support to migrants and displaced people, operating HSPs that provided access to information, food, and other necessities, as well as restoring family links services. At the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the IFRC is calling for individual and collective efforts on search and rescue; ensuring access to essential services for migrants regardless of status; scaling up support to people affected of climate related displacement; and the inclusion of migrants in all aspects of society and decision making. “The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,” says Mr Rocca. “This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.” Listen to the recording of Francesco Rocca's press briefing at the UN in New York. To schedule an interview or for further information: In New York: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 4367, [email protected] In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
Niger: Food insecurity crisis
In Niger, more than four million people are facing the devastating effects of food insecurity caused by several failed rainy seasons and decades of increasing desertification of the Sahel region. People are struggling to access food and are exposed to many other threats, including climate-related disasters, epidemics and insecurity—all of which are leading to population movement and increased competition for resources. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC will support the Niger Red Cross to save the lives and protect the livelihoods of the most food-insecure people through cash assistance, support to farmers, and nutrition.
South Africa: Floods and landslides
Deadly floods and landslides have devastated South Africa following three days of pounding rain in April 2022, prompting the country to declare a National State of Disaster. More than 100,000 people have been affected, thousands of homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people have tragically lost their lives. The worst affected areas are in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces. Through this emergency appeal, the IFRC will support the South African Red Cross Society to provide relief activities to 30,000 of the most affected people to meet their immediate needs and help them recover.
Ethiopia: Drought hunger crisis
Across the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia), millions of households are facing the effects of multiple concurrent shocks, including food insecurity due to drought. This emergency appeal will enable the IFRC to assistthe Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) in responding to this climate-induced hunger crisis. Money raised will help save lives, protect people's livelihoods, and promote the early recovery of the most food-insecure people.
Iran has been suffering from unprecedented and widespread drought since July 2021. Alack of safe and sufficient water supply for drinking, hygiene, agriculture, animal farming and electrical power is having a devastating and increasingly unsustainable strain on people's health and income. The Iranian Red Crescent Society has been helping communities across the country to cope with the drought since July, with support from the Disaster Response Emergency Fund.This emergency appeal will support the Iranian Red Crescent to scale up its humanitarian response, targeting 800,000 people with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, livelihoods, cash and protection assistance.
Ukraine and impacted countries crisis
Due to the conflict escalation in Ukraine, millions of people have left their homes and crossed into neighbouring countries. The Ukrainian Red Cross is helping people affected by the conflict as the security situation allows. National Societies in surrounding countries, with support from the IFRC, are assisting people leaving Ukraine with shelter, basic aid items and medical supplies. People from Ukraine will need long-term, ongoing support. Our priority is addressing the humanitarian needs of all people affected by the conflict, inside and outside Ukraine.
Everyone Counts Report 2022