When it comes to humanitarian response, women are still often overlooked despite sector-wide commitments to better recognise their needs and include them in relief efforts.
Meanwhile, abuse and harassment inside the very industry tasked with providing aid sometimes worsen the situation. Women and girls who are aid recipients can be doubly affected as they become victims, and some female aid workers have also been victimised – their relative positions of power unable to protect them.
In 2018, as IRIN continued to highlight the challenges faced by some of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls, we also turned the spotlight on the inner workings of the aid sector, at a time when #AidToo tarnished the image of the industry.
Below are highlights from our reporting.
Aid’s MeToo Moment
In revelations that shook the aid industry this year, NGOs including Oxfam, Save the Children, and the Red Cross along with a few UN agencies were implicated in sexual abuse, harassment, and exploitation scandals. Our coverage identified failures in the system and helped to ask critical questions about the way forward.
Years after sexual abuse allegations were made against UN peacekeepers deployed in Central African Republic, IRIN’s Philip Kleinfeld visited CAR and spoke with women to reveal stark gaps in support and justice for victims, as well as new allegations from women who had not previously come forward.
Rape as a weapon
In 2017, Myanmar’s military was accused of widespread sexual violence in its crackdown on Rohingya communities. Nine months later, aid groups in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps prepared to identify and assist the women and girls who were made pregnant by rape.
Climate and gender
Climate change affects everyone, but poor people who already live in the ecological margins are hit hardest – especially women, many of whom collect the firewood, fetch the water, and grow the food. So women must also be on the front lines of finding solutions. The struggle for climate justice and gender justice must go hand in hand.
In South Sudan, a country where 80 percent of those displaced are women and children, and where seven million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, it’s not easy for women to reclaim their livelihoods. But local initiatives are offering basic skills training to help some rebuild their futures.
Post-war Mosul, a city freed from the grip of the so-called Islamic State, is still struggling to recover. In the absence of much in the way of mental health services, one place is now an unofficial group therapy session: the salon, where Iraqi women can gather among themselves to process the collective trauma of three years of terror.
Routine and risk
Getting clean water is a huge challenge for displaced people in northeast Nigeria’s Borno State. With 75 percent of infrastructure destroyed due to conflict and insufficient supplies in displacement camps, many are forced to leave in search of boreholes. But for women and girls, this presents an additional threat – the risk of being trafficked.