A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal in April of 2015. Another devastating earthquake struck only days later. Thousands died and millions were affected. Hospitals were overwhelmed and supplies were depleted. 2 million women and girls of reproductive age were among those affected and are now those most vulnerable. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, will focus on their needs and rights throughout the recovery process.
In the many months after the earthquake, as during the aftermath of any humanitarian disaster, reproductive and maternal health is likely to suffer greatly. Many women have also lost access to family planning, and have been exposed to unwanted pregnancies in perilous conditions. Moreover, during the aftermath of a crisis women and girls are even more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.
Through this project, UNFPA will continue to support 13 Female Friendly Spaces to help empower women and girls and protect them from violence. These centers will serve as essential resource gathering places, but in many instances they will also serve as primary residences. For many women these spaces are critical in their struggle for survival as they cannot return to their homes because of the threat or existence of gender-based violence.
The focus on reproductive and maternal health as well as the targeted efforts on reducing violence against women will help to address problems that were also present before the earthquake. In fact, though the Female Friendly Spaces were created in response to the earthquake, many women arriving at the centers suffered previously from various forms of gender-based violence. UNFPA also works to continue many of these services as the initial humanitarian response winds down.