Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for women and girls in a crisis-prone world

Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation, opened a seminar in Stockholm on 3 December about SRHR in humanitarian situations. Ms Lövin emphasised that conflict and natural disasters affect women, men, girls and boys in different ways.

When a crisis strikes, women and girls are disproportionately disadvantaged, and less prepared or empowered to survive and recover.

"Women's rights are not a soft issue, they are a matter of life and death. Yet far too often, they are neglected by humanitarian actors. As the world's fifth largest donor country of disaster relief, Sweden bears a special responsibility," said Ms Lövin.

The importance of ensuring access to SRHR for women and girls in humanitarian situations was highlighted. Refugees now spend an average of 20 years away from home. Linking humanitarian and development actions together through increased collaboration was identified as a core element in achieving sustainable solutions. Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls are critical priorities for the Swedish Government that will be pursued at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016, as well as during Sweden's incoming chairmanship of Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies.

At the seminar, UNFPA launched their State of World Population report "Shelter from the storm – A transformative agenda for women and girls in a crisis-prone world". Astrid Börjeson (Doctors without Borders) shared her field experience from working with displaced woman and girls. Agnes Björn (Plan Sweden) stressed why SRHR is important for children's rights organisations and young girls' need of protection in humanitarian situations. Finally, Madeleine Lundberg, Swedish Red Cross, spoke about gender-based violence in disasters.