During natural disasters, conflicts, and other emergencies, the reproductive health (RH) needs of youth are often unmet. Of the nearly 100 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the world, 26 million are women or adolescent girls of reproductive age. Natural and man-made emergencies can disrupt the family, social, and economic structures that young people depend on, placing them at risk of poverty, violence, sexual exploitation, and abuse. In situations where education and health services are lacking or have been suspended, young people are left without access to reproductive health information and services, yet in these circumstances, they face higher RH risks like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV infection, unwanted pregnancy, and unsafe abortion.
RH services for young people during emergency situations must be innovative, accessible, and culturally appropriate. Young people should be involved in the development, implementation, and monitoring of program activities to ensure that they are responsive to the specific needs of young people. Including both boys and girls in educational activities that promote gender equity can reduce gender-based violence and high-risk sexual behavior in times of peace and in times of conflict. More research is needed to determine how to meet the health needs of young people in humanitarian situations most effectively.
This Toolkit from K4H provides both general service delivery resources and information tailored to the needs of specific populations such as youth and people living with HIV. The Toolkit offers a collection of resources for incorporating gender considerations into emergency health systems, service delivery practices, the development of shelters, and more. Finally, the Toolkit contains links to key humanitarian organizations with expertise in reproductive health in emergencies and related issues (2018)
In a State of Crisis: Meeting the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Women in Humanitarian Situations
This policy review by Sneha Barot at the Guttmacher Institute highlights the gap in programming to address the reproductive health needs of women and adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. The author makes the case for prioritizing the delivery of sexual and reproductive health services throughout a humanitarian situation—not only during the crisis phase, but also before its onset, during the recovery and beyond, toward long-term development (2017).
Nine of the top 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are fragile states. Yet married girls are invisible in humanitarian programming. This research by the Women’s Refugee Commission suggests that when girls have access to education and other programming and when families have their basic needs met, child marriage can be reduced (2016).
These resources by the Women’s Refugee Commission outline how economic strengthening can mitigate girls' risk of gender-based violence, outlining promising practices from both humanitarian and development contexts (2015).
Adolescent girls with disabilities and girls who live in households with persons with disabilities are often overlooked in humanitarian programming. The principles outlined in this report by the Women’s Refugee Commission show how to foster their participation and strengthen protective assets. This mitigates their risk of violence, abuse and exploitation (2015).
Developed by the Women’s Refugee Commission for emergency response staff, this report outlines an operational approach and recommendations that can help humanitarian sectors be more accountable to adolescent girls from the start of an emergency (2014).
State of the World’s Population: Shelter from the Storm: A Transformative Agenda for Women and Girls in a Crisis-prone World
This comprehensive report outlines the key risks for individuals impacted by a humanitarian crisis—including those risks specific to women and young girls—as well as the type of responses needed, including family planning services. The report focuses on determinants and areas of resilience during these crises and ends with ideas for moving forward (2015).
Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Humanitarian Settings: An In-depth Look at Family Planning Services
This joint report catalogs the results of a year-long study to map adolescent reproductive health programs in areas affected by conflict, documents good practices, and provides recommendations to improve access to quality reproductive health care for adolescents in humanitarian settings (2012).
This toolkit for humanitarian program managers and health care providers offers tools for assessing the effects of a crisis on adolescents, implementing a youth-friendly Minimum Initial Service Package, and ensuring that adolescents can participate in program development and implementation. This publication is a companion to the Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings (2009).
This report examines the stresses of ‘being young and out of place.’ It explores young people’s needs and coping strategies, and asks why relatively little attention is paid to their rights and needs. It also includes articles on other subjects such as national policies in Afghanistan and Nigeria, resettlement in Argentina, mental health in Lebanese camps and why some issues make it onto the international agenda while others do not (2012).
This guide outlines the standards and principles that guarantee the fundamental rights of children in armed conflict. Chapter 8 focuses on sexual violence against children and highlights the steps that various Conventions and Security Council resolutions have taken to address this issue (2010).
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Guidelines for Prevention and Response
This document provides guidance for designing and implementing strategies for preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence. The guidelines, which have been tested in 32 countries with the participation of more than 60 partners, also offer information on relevant health, legal, security, and human rights issues (2003).
This field manual is the product of a collaboration involving more than 100 members of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises. The content is based on World Health Organization (WHO) technical guidance and reflects best practices documented in crisis settings around the world (2010).
Silent Suffering: The Psychosocial Impact of War, HIV and Other High-risk Situations on Girls and Boys in West and Central Africa
This report highlights the situation of the thousands of children affected by violence and abuse in West and Central Africa. The publication includes an assessment of the mental health and psychosocial needs of children in this region; an analysis of the existing institutions that provide support to these children; best practices and lessons learned in the field; and recommendations for strengthening programming in the region (2009).