Helping Communities To Rebuild Their Lives

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Parvati and her husband's baby was just 26-days-old when the first earthquake shook Nepal in April last year. Like hundreds of thousands of other people - the family were left destitute.

They lived under tarpaulin in the rubble borrowing blankets and clothes to stay warm.

Within days the Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) had set up medical camps in remote areas to provide services to thousands of women like Parvati.

Parvati was able to get post-natal checks for her baby and she received a dignity kit with essentials for them both.

"I am very happy that at the camp people have actually thought about a woman's needs, especially a new mother's needs", said Parvati.

This is often not the case when disaster strikes. The needs of girls and women can be forgotten in the emergency response.

The statistics are staggering.

125 million people are affected by crises at this moment and one quarter of those people are women of reproductive age - that's 31million.

Women and girls are 14 times more likely than men to die in an emergency.

A staggering 7 out of 10 women are exposed to gender-based violence in crises situations right now. Sexual and gender-based violence arising from gender inequality worsens in humanitarian crises.

After the 2011 cyclones in Vanuatu a counseling centre recorded a 300 per cent increase in gender-based violence referrals. Too often women and adolescent girls are left to fend for themselves or care for their families alone. Sex may be traded for survival - food, water and shelter.

Up to 70 per cent of all health facilities sustained damage or were destroyed when Cyclone Pam devastated the islands of Vanuatu in 2015. Access to life-saving maternal and neonatal services in the immediate aftermath of the disaster was not an option for many women.

In the rush to provide shelter and food in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, sexual and reproductive health needs are often overlooked. A woman in need of care and protection may travel for days to reach a shelter or camp, but there may be no doctor or sterile equipment there when she arrives.

At the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) we put sexual rights and reproductive health first.

IPPF provides women and girls with life-saving care for maternal and child health and contraception.

We provide protection from sexual violence and HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

From 2013 to 2015, IPPF doubled the number of clients served in conflict and crisis. Last year alone IPPF helped more than 2 million women and children affected by natural, conflict and health crises.

IPPF locally-owned Member Associations are on the ground to respond to a crisis, often well before international humanitarian agencies arrive.

IPPF is embedded within the community: we are there before and after the crisis. We help communities to recover and rebuild their lives.

We also campaign to ensure that sexual health is not forgotten.

Sexual and reproductive health rights feature in a number of international declarations and agreements related to humanitarian crises. Despite significant achievements, political pressures that oppose prioritizing sexual and reproductive health and rights are strong.

Too often, sexual and reproductive health and rights in emergencies are overlooked and critically underfunded. Ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and rights are at the heart of the world's response to humanitarian crises is an urgent priority.

So to mark this year's World Humanitarian Day we urge you to support our work so that we can ensure women like Parvati can look after themselves and their babies in the aftermath of a life-changing crisis.

We are asking you to share this article to show your support for IPPF and the work we do.