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Supporting Women in Crisis and Conflict

Women are particularly affected when fighting. While women are the majority among combatants they also suffer the most severe harm. This includes assaults on women, the burden of child-care burdens, and unintended pregnancy. Women are not often involved in peace-related formal processes, but conflict resolution has demonstrated to be more lasting when women are involved.

Recent events that have occurred in Afghanistan and Myanmar bring these problems back to Asia. When the Taliban were elected to power during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan during August of this year, the country worried that women would be forced to cease attending school or work. The Taliban has shut down the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which means that other women will be required to fight for gender equality throughout the country. In February, the military coup in Myanmar has reverted the gains in gender equality that were made in the last decade. In certain areas that have intense fighting, more than 80 percent of the people who are displaced are children, women, and the elderly. It is a difficult situation for Myanmar is extremely fragile. Myanmar, with more than 1.5 times the size of Afghanistan, is still very fragile.

The huge needs of these countries are in line with an increasing concern for advancing female equality across Asia. A lot of work is being carried out by members of the AVPN’s Asia Gender Network, which was formed in the year 2020, as the very first Pan-Asian platform which aims to empower women as well as girls. Despite the fact that crisis situations can create significant obstacles in delivering positive outcomes, donors shouldn’t hesitate to invest in areas where gender equality is required the most.

Below are the four different ways donors can help women in these nations.

Use gender-sensitive humanitarian aid to help

Humanitarian needs must be addressed in a gender-sensitive way. This means that donors need to look into and tackle the burdens that each crisis places on women. As the current crisis in Myanmar has passed the seven-month mark, more mothers are having babies in areas of displacement and are struggling to get safe drinking water and adequate nutrition. In Afghanistan, women who assist workers may be barred from working, which could mean that aid is not reaching the majority of people because of gender rules.

Provide adaptable services to combat gender-based violence

Political stressors are known to be a factor in the development in the development of gender-based violence (GBV), which includes the rape of women and domestic violence perpetrated by security personnel. The need for preventative and response services is vital. Many people who have been displaced in Myanmar remain in the process of moving and are afraid to return, which means that it’s not feasible to provide long-term GBV support to be put in place. A number of women’s shelters located in Afghanistan have been closed. The shelters that are still operating, and maintain their low-profile, need assistance, as do women who returned to family relationships that were abusive.

Give educational opportunities to girls and women

It is generally accepted that education is crucial to equality of gender. However, what is not widely acknowledged are the challenges faced by women affected by conflict. Before the Myanmar coup, refugees were able to attend secondary school in camps, however their diplomas were not recognized from the Burmese government, which meant they could not be admitted to Burmese universities. This is the situation facing Afghan women’s education appears worse under Taliban rule. While a functioning school system in the state is great however, it’s impossible to attain in both countries in the near-term. The donors could look to innovative educational systems that are not state-owned or online or scholarship programs in other countries. These investments are likely to have a profound long-term effect, since the involvement of women with education from marginalized groups is essential in resolving conflicts.

Women’s groups have trust in women’s associations along with local and regional partners

Women’s organizations also require trust and support. Women’s organizations in Myanmar have connections and the expertise to provide aid to remote areas. I’ve spoken with several women’s associations in Myanmar, and I have heard that the main challenge facing them is managing donor expectations. Many aid workers worry that carrying laptops, receipts or other documents could expose them to security forces, rendering the reporting requirements of donors difficult to meet. The reports that women’s shelter workers have been evicted in Afghanistan burn sensitive papers sound alarmingly similar. Donors might discover that the normal methods to measure impact aren’t applicable when dealing with such a volatile situation. The trust and understanding between local and donor organizations is essential to help donors reach out to women in need of their assistance.

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Jane S. King

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