Over 134 million people in need of emergency relief - World Humanitarian Day highlights the position of women in the middle of crises

Over 134 million people in need of emergency relief - World Humanitarian Day highlights the position of women in the middle of crises

On World Humanitarian Day, 19 August, the UN focuses on the special needs of women and girls in humanitarian aid work. During its presidency of the Council of the European Union, Finland also stresses how important it is to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and to support its victims in crises.

“The majority of people in need of humanitarian aid are women and children whose position is especially vulnerable in disaster situations. Often women and girls are worst affected by the consequences of crises and conflicts. For that reason, the role of women in planning and implementation of humanitarian operations must be strengthened,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.

Pregnancies and births increase the vulnerability of girls and women in crises and conflicts: it is estimated that as many as 60 per cent of maternal deaths occur in humanitarian crises. Rapes, forced marriages and human trafficking are commonplace in many crises and sexual violence is used as a means of war. Refugee status causes ever more risk factors. Disabled women and children are in a particularly vulnerable position.

Studies have proven that women's participation in humanitarian work improves the results of assistance. Only this way it can be made sure in many cultures that assistance will reach local women. It is often easier for women to talk about violence, its threat or other difficult experiences with other women.

The situation of humanitarian aid in the world continues difficult. Over 134 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. At the moment, the total sum of the UN’s appeal for humanitarian funds for the year 2019 is over EUR 25 billion. Just over one-quarter of that has been paid. Especially in conflicts, the weak security situation and various administrative obstacles make it more difficult for assistance to reach people.

Finland supports the improvement of women's and girls’ position in humanitarian aid through the United Nations Population Fund and Plan International and by participating in the work of international organisations. The Finnish organisations World Vision Finland, Fida International, Save the Children Finland, Finn Church Aid, Finnish Red Cross and Plan International Finland do humanitarian work with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. This year, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has granted nearly EUR 67 million in humanitarian assistance.

Inquiries: Claus Lindroos, Director of the Unit for Humanitarian Assistance and Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 351 234

The Foreign Ministry's email addresses are of the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi.