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Apr 26, 2016

1 Year After the Earthquake: UNFPA's Work in Nepal

Meeting at UNFPA Female Friendly Space
Meeting at UNFPA Female Friendly Space

A year after two devastating earthquakes struck Nepal, UNFPA has gone deeper than addressing only its direct consequences. UNFPA’s work ensuring the health and dignity of women and girls after the disaster has begun to correct long-term issues of gender-based violence.

As in most crisis settings, the earthquake increased rates of violence; however, abuse was already pervasive before the quake hit, while the resources for women experiencing it were scarce. As part of its response, UNFPA helped establish 14 Female Friendly Spaces in the districts hardest hit. Over the past year, these 14 facilities have reached more than 410,000 women. 

“As the fabric of society broke down, insecurity and violence against women went up,” says Giulia Vallese, UNFPA’s representative in Nepal. “The deeper work to tackle the attitudes and beliefs that fuel violence against women is just getting going, and there’s far more to do.” UNFPA’s Female Friendly Spaces provide shelter as well as physical, emotional, and psychological support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

“We faced a lot of resistance when we started all this,” says a member of Nepal's Women’s Human Rights Protection Network, a UNFPA partner. “I was threatened, and many men thought we would make their lives more difficult by helping women think differently. But after they came here, they started to understand and to work with.”

In addition to Female Friendly Spaces, UNFPA has provided the following services:

  • 132 reproductive health camps provided services and supplies to over 104,000 people.

  • 80 birthing facilities that were destroyed during the earthquake were rehabilitated so mothers can give birth safely and receive the post-natal care they need.

  • Over 56,000 Dignity Kits were provided to women and girls in earthquake affected areas. The kits include clothes, sanitary napkins, towels, washing materials, and a flashlight.
UNFPA tells girls about dangers of child marriage
UNFPA tells girls about dangers of child marriage


Mar 15, 2016

UNFPA Increases Facility-based Care After Ebola

UNFPA training on supply distribution
UNFPA training on supply distribution

In the aftermath of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, UNFPA’s focus is now on helping the region’s health systems fully recover and become more resilient so they are better prepared for future outbreaks or crises. Most importantly, UNFPA is working with communities throughout the region to re-establish confidence in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

As a result of the Ebola outbreak, fewer women have been seeking facility-based healthcare for pre-natal treatment and check-ups as well as for deliveries. Throughout the outbreak, pregnant women were either turned away or stayed away from hospitals out of fear of contracting the virus. UNFPA is working with its partners to demonstrate to women that they can return to hospitals for the care they need, especially for pregnancy and childbirth.

By employing traditional midwives to build awareness of the benefits and availability of facility-based care, UNFPA is working to reduce maternal and newborn deaths to pre-Ebola levels and beyond. According to the World Bank, the maternal mortality rate in Liberia alone is projected to increase by 111 percent.

Through regular meetings with traditional caregivers, UNFPA is reinforcing the importance of referring pregnant women for facility-based care and delivery, where infections and illnesses can be treated and complications during delivery can be addressed.  

During monthly meetings, UNFPA provides traditional caregivers with refresher training on topics such as warning signs during pregnancy, the importance of facility deliveries, care for newborns, family planning and its benefits, the prevention of Malaria in pregnancy, the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, and the dangers of delivering without the supervision of a skilled caregiver.

In between meetings, traditional caregivers, who have developed relationships with communities and individuals, explain the benefits of facility-based care and child delivery to women and families. By spreading this message, UNFPA is working to reverse the impact of the Ebola outbreak by improving access to maternal health services.

Feb 9, 2016

UNFPA Appeals for Women as Syria War Continues

A mother and her newborn in Syria.
A mother and her newborn in Syria.

After five years of fighting in Syria, UNFPA appealed to world leaders this month to increase global aid to women and girls affected by the conflict. “Protecting the rights of women and young people and putting an end to gender-based violence is everyone’s responsibility,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin at the Syria Donors Conference in London.

For only $11 you can help UNFPA provide 3 emergency clean delivery kits to women without access to maternal health services.

With 13.5 million Syrians impacted by the crisis, 4.1 million are women and girls of reproductive age including 360,000 pregnant women.  “Even in peaceful times, it can be difficult to carry a baby and have a safe delivery. But inside a war zone with air strikes and snipers, on a boat with smugglers, or in a refugee camp, being pregnant is truly daunting,” wrote Dr. Osotimehin recently for “In every emergency, the risks to women and girls increase as access to health services decline.”

UNFPA continues to work in Syria and in the surrounding region to improve access to these services. Thus far, UNFPA has provided reproductive health services for over 130,000 people affected. UNFPA supports 148 women’s health centers and safe spaces in the region. UNFPA-supported facilities provide prenatal and safe-delivery services as well as psychosocial support for victims of gender-based violence.

For expectant mothers out of the reach of these facilities, UNFPA provides clean delivery kits consisting of a bar of soap, a clear plastic sheet, razor blade, an umbilical cord tie, cloth and latex gloves. While these supplies may appear rudimentary, they help prevent infection and can make the difference between life and death for a mother and her baby.

UNFPA also provides dignity kits to women in Syria and the surrounding countries. Dignity kits contain items such as underwear, soap, a comb, and feminine hygiene supplies. For $25 you can provide these essential items to a woman for six months.

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