| Press release
"At the heart of our services in Afghanistan are women and girls: as recipients and as deliverers."
Kuala Lumpur / Geneva, 26 December 2022 - Every day, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) supports thousands of people in Afghanistan to cope with disasters, hunger, and access to health care. At the heart of these services are women and girls: as recipients, designers, and deliverers. They are the centre of our work.
Women are the main clients of the primary health services supported through the Afghanistan Red Crescent Society. Female medical staff make these services possible as doctors, nurses, midwives, and outreach workers. Women lead the vocational training and care and support for destitute women in our Marastoon centres across the country. Women are critical to how we design and monitor services for women and girls. They should not, and cannot, be replaced by male colleagues.
IFRC is extremely concerned by the recent announcements of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) suspending women’s access to higher education and to work in national and international non-governmental organisations.
It is not clear yet how these announcements will apply to the IFRC. We remain committed to gender diversity, to our female colleagues and to service continuity involving female colleagues. That is how we reach communities and the most vulnerable across the country. We will represent this commitment to the authorities.
However, whatever the direct effect of the announcements on our work, such exclusion is devastating for the country in the short term and long term. Its impact on those in need of humanitarian services will be appalling.
We urge the authorities to consider this impact and to find solutions that enable continuity of life-saving assistance across Afghanistan, in the interests of women and girls, and of all Afghans.
For more information, contact:
Afrhill Rances, +60 19 271 3641
Rachel Punitha, +60 19 791 3830,
| Press release
“We need to do better” – IFRC report reveals gaps in child protection during climate related disasters
Kingston, Jamaica – November 19, 2021. Adolescents overwhelmingly feel that they do not have the information needed to be safe from potential violence, abuse, and exploitation in climate related disasters. This is one of the main findings of “We Need to Do Better: Climate Related Disasters, Child Protection and Localizing Action in the Caribbean,” a recent study conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The report has revealed that even though climate related disasters affect each person in the region, children are particularly at risk. They make up a large portion of the population of the Caribbean and are most vulnerable to encountering violence, abuse, and exploitation in disaster settings, while systems to protect them do not always work. The study also highlights that there are no specific laws in place to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation when disasters happen.
Gurvinder Singh, IFRC’s Child Protection Senior Advisor and one of the authors of the report, said:
“While children potentially have great leadership and innovation capabilities, unfortunately, their voices are rarely being sought out or heard. Furthermore, there is a huge deficit in meaningful opportunities for children to be engaged in decisions that affect them. This is especially prominent in the stages of preparing for and responding to disasters. Adolescents believe that even if they do participate, their opinions may not be taken seriously by adults.”
By putting the voices, perspectives, and ideas of children at the forefront, the report seeks to understand the generally unexplored relationships between climate related disasters and children’s concerns around violence, abuse, exploitation, and mental health challenges. It also sends a warning to governments and civic organisations to play a more active role in the promotion of and respect for the rights of the child, especially with regards to the issue of child abuse and the need for urgent effective prevention programmes.
Ariel Kestens, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean, said:
“It is critical that governments enhance domestic laws, invest in child protection systems, improve local coordination, train local responders, include protection and climate change in school curriculum, and collect sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data in disaster responses. The IFRC Network across the Caribbean stands ready to support them to continue striving to meet the best interests of each child affected by more and more frequent, and destructive climate related disasters.”
The report also recommends practical actions for the humanitarian sector, such as designing child-friendly communications, implementing community feedback mechanisms, including child protection in anticipatory action, integrating child protection across preparedness, assessments and planning, and creating spaces for children and adults to engage, support one another and find viable solutions to protection risks.
The study was based on discussions and an online survey with 198 adolescents ages 14-17 years in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; interviews with 30 adults from different disaster and child protection agencies, and background research. It is part of the campaign “We Need to Do Better” by the IFRC to enhance protection of children in climate related disasters.
The full report may be accessed here. The adolescent summary of the report is available here.
For more information, please contact:
In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected]
In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected]
Protection, Gender and Inclusion
For the IFRC to remain true to our principles, we must ensure we reach all people effectively and in a non-discriminatory and equitable manner. Our work must ensure dignity, access, participation and safety for all people affected by disasters and crises.
Inclusion, protection and engagement
At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we believe that diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act. Through all of our work, we aim to protect and promote a positive change for humanity, based on our humanitarian values and Fundamental Principles.
Women are the agents of change for climate change in southern Africa
By: Dr Michael Charles
Today South Africa marks Women’s Day. Much like the women being commemorated for the march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, women in southern Africa today may well hold the same flint that lights a “new movement” – climate change.
Southern Africa is one of the regions projected to experience the most serious consequences of global warming and the El Niño effect. In 2019, we experienced one of the worst disasters the region has ever seen - Cyclone Idai ravaged communities in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe and continue to rebuild their lives.
Urgent action is needed to increase the region’s preparedness for natural disasters. It is only a matter of time until the next disaster strikes. Being female often automatically means that personal susceptibility to sexual and domestic violence, rape and assault in emergency situations is significantly heightened. Women experience additional difficulties because they are typically responsible for sourcing water and preparing food; caring for children, the injured, sick and elderly; and maintaining family and community cohesion.
Tackling climate change is, undoubtedly, women’s business. They have a vested interest in avoiding and mitigating the impacts of climate change. It is time that humanitarian actors and policy and decision-makers mainstream gender in policy and practice. It is not a “nice to do”; it is crucial to making real and sustainable differences in the lives of affected people.
In 1956, 200,000 South African women declared that enough was enough and acted to defend themselves and the unity and integrity of their families from restrictive laws that required them to carry a pass to reside and move freely in urban areas.
Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock! was the rallying cry of that day, used to signify the women’s unshakeable and unbreakable resolve in the face of adversity as they marched to the Union Building in Pretoria, and sparked change in the course of South Africa’s history.
As countries in southern Africa ramp up their disaster risk management and humanitarian organisations work to strengthen community recovery and resilience, women in southern Africa should not just be considered victims and survivors who need special protection and assistance. They are forces for change who can be relied on to represent themselves within their communities and at the highest decision-making levels.
I am always inspired by the women I meet responding in disasters, most recently in Cyclone Idai. Women like, Sonia, a volunteer who was working long hours to support women in a shelter, displaced by Cyclone Idai or Flora, who was affected herself by flooding but was dedicated to helping her neighbours rebuild their homes and their lives.
Happy Women’s Day, South Africa. May the flame that was lit in 1956 and the fire of women’s empowerment and participation that was built over the decades rage on.
| Press release
Media Advisory: Women Deliver Conference: Gender inequality in humanitarian crises, deadly gender divide in Ebola
Vancouver/Geneva, 31 May 2019 – The global head of the world’s largest humanitarian network will highlight the deadly consequences of gender inequality in the wake of disasters and conflicts, during a high-profile plenary session at the Women Deliver Conference.
Elhadj As Sy, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), will take part in a plenary session entitled The Power of Lift: Stepping up to use power for good, on Wednesday 5 June. He will call for a major shift in power dynamics during humanitarian emergencies by involving more women in leading, planning, and implementing emergency response operations. He will also highlight the work being done by women across the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in humanitarian response.
Mr Sy is available for interviews between 3-5 June 2019. He can also speak on a range of humanitarian issues, including the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where women and girls account for roughly 60 percent of those infected.