Involve girls in emergency planning
The Associate Community Services Officer of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Madam Elsie Dinah Yaokumah, has stressed the need to involve girls in planning, implementation and monitoring assistance programmes during emergency responses.
That, she said, could be achieved through their representation on distribution committees, leadership and promoting their self-reliance from the start.
Madam Yaokumah cautioned that if this was not done, the effectiveness of the emergency assistance would be severely reduced, and an early opportunity to help the girls in need to recover from psychological effects of their ordeal may be missed.
Also, she said, in order to achieve optimal protection of young girls in disasters, a quick vulnerability analysis was needed to inform the needs and planning of targeted assistance towards girls.
She was speaking on the topic, ‘Adolescent Girls and Disasters,’ during the launch of Plan International’s annual State of the World’s Girls report 2013 in Accra.
The report which was launched on the theme, ‘ In Double Jeopardy: Adolescent Girls and Disasters,’ accessed the current state of the world’s girls while providing evidence, including the voices of girls themselves, as to why they should be treated differently from boys and women.
Past reports have covered education, conflict, economic empowerment, cities and technology and how boys and young men could support gender equality.
Madam Yaokumah also said there was the need to map out the organisational capacity required for meeting the needs of internally displaced girls, asylum seekers and refugees.
‘This will help identify staff of the right calibre and experience who would be deployed immediately disaster strikes,’ she said, adding that education was the key intervention to keeping girls away from social vices.
She further called for the identification of specific measures that may be needed to meet the special protection problems and needs of groups at risk, including girls, child-headed households, trafficked children, unaccompanied children, sexually abused children and single young girls.
Madam Yaokumah expressed further, the need to develop mechanisms to protect girls against the arbitrary actions of outsiders and groups within their own group who may pose a threat to their safety.
She said the UNHCR recommends the provision of basic needs such as availability of water, shelter, healthcare, good sanitation facilities, hygiene kits and sanitary towels.
‘At least the minimum need for food and energy must be met to avoid girls being sent to look for fuel wood and search for food, which may expose them to exploitation,’ she said.
Madam Yaokumah also called for the provision of recreational facilities or youth-friendly spaces and centres to promote special youth programmes.
‘These interventions cannot be achieved by one agency, sector or partner. It calls for a collaborated effort with clearly mapped-out roles and responsibilities, mobilisation of resources and involvement of the girls themselves,’ she stated.
Launching the report, the First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama, commended Plan International Ghana for promoting girl-child education in the country.
She said girls, in particular, must not be treated differently or segregated because of their gender; rather, it should be done according to the expectations of how they fulfilled their assigned duties or responsibilities.
‘If girls are empowered to participate in decision making in their communities and in economic, civic and political life, everyone stands to benefit,’ she added.
By Zainabu Issah/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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