State of the World Population 2015

No. of pages: 140

Publication date: 2016

Author: UNFPA

We live in a world where humanitarian crises extract mounting costs from economies, communities and individuals. Wars and natural disasters make the headlines, at least initially. Less visible but also costly are the crises of fragility, vulnerability and growing inequality, confining millions of people to the most tenuous hopes for peace and development. 

While sexual and reproductive health services are increasingly provided in humanitarian responses, striking gaps remain.
 

The world has repeatedly affirmed the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls. Now it needs to deliver in all cases, including humanitarian crises.

Conflicts and disasters do not exempt any government or humanitarian actor from obligations, embodied in the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, to uphold the right of the individual to sexual and reproductive health, including the right to decide freely and responsibly whether, when or how often to become pregnant.

A time of burgeoning crisis has demanded a ballooning humanitarian response. While humanitarian “fires” will always need to be fought, particularly as natural disasters accelerate in a time of climate change, much more could be done to cut root causes of crises and reduce underlying vulnerabilities.

All crises, whether those that strike in the hours of a ferocious storm, or that keep peace at bay for decades, destroy prospects for development, often profoundly. People lose their lives and livelihoods, their homes and communities, sustain profound injuries and may become disabled. Education and health services disappear, depriving people of their rights to them, and setting in motion long-term consequences that make eventual recovery ever more difficult. 

Foremost among the losses are those to sexual and reproductive health. While sexual and reproductive health services are increasingly provided in humanitarian responses, striking gaps remain. For the woman giving birth or the girl who has been raped in the chaos of fleeing the bombs falling on her city, the consequences, including death and disability in the worst cases, can multiply harms many times over.