When crisis occurs, people’s lives change in an instant. Death, injury, displacement and the destruction of infrastructure and institutions affect entire communities as a result.

Crises affect women, girls, boys and men of all ages differently. During crises, such as conflict or disasters, women often endure extreme hardships, such as increased violence and insecurity, restricted mobility and additional care, domestic and livelihood responsibilities and their unique needs are often forgotten or ignored. 

As a result, their needs and interests differ, as do their resources, capacities and coping strategies. Women are often the first to respond to a crisis and they play a central role in the survival and resilience of families and communities.

Women and girls are not helpless victims. Humanitarian efforts must recognise the fact that women and girls – like boys and men – have much to contribute in preparing for, and responding to, crises. Women must be included in decision making about the forms of assistance and protection they need. Humanitarian action can also present opportunities for new and more progressive gender roles and relationships to emerge.

UN Women is committed to ensuring equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of humanitarian action, working proactively with other UN organisations to ensure:

  • Emergency response plans adequately integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment;
  • Women and girls are equally consulted in humanitarian action to understand and adequately address their needs;
  • Women’s leadership is leveraged;
  • Gender is integrated into humanitarian assessments, reporting and monitoring tools; and
  • Gender experts are included in the humanitarian teams responding to the crisis

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Quick Facts

  • All forms of violence against women increase during disasters and displacement.

  • In emergencies, women and girls face a significantly increased risk for unwanted pregnancy, gender-based violence, STIs and maternal mortality.

  • Every day, 507 women and adolescent girls die from pregnancy and childbirth complications in emergency settings.

  • Disasters such as droughts, floods and storms kill more women than men due to structural gender inequalities.