Women and girls in Iraq face heightened security and health risks, new Gender Alert shows

Date: Friday, September 26, 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State armed opposition groups across parts of Iraq in June 2014 has caused widespread violence and insecurity, internally displacing 1.8 million people across the region this year alone. According to a new Gender Alert on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the impact on women and girls has been particularly marked; nevertheless, they have been marginalized in the overall humanitarian response.

The alert from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Reference Group on Gender in Humanitarian Action, shows that increased pressures on the health sector have reduced women’s access to maternal care and female sanitary supplies. Lack of adequate housing and the deterioration of the rule of law have put women and girls at greater risk of experiencing gender-based violence, particularly in camps for internally displaced persons, where gender-based approaches are not always taken.

According to the alert, effective humanitarian action in Iraq will only be achieved if it facilitates and supports the participation and inclusion of women as leaders and decision-makers in the response. It also calls for humanitarian workers to prioritize the collection of sex- and age-disaggregated data.

UN Women – together with IFRC, UNHCR, and the Women’s Refugee Commission – is a co-chair of the IASC Reference Group which is made up of UN and non-UN agencies, NGOs and civil society organizations and promotes the integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the global humanitarian system.

Read the full gender alert here: Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq Gender Alert: September 2014