Women & Children in Emergencies

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Hanan is showing us a picture she drew on a torn piece of paper. In some ways it’s what you’d expect from an 8 year old. The people have smiling faces and amorphous bodies. The houses have pointed rooftops and windows.

But look more closely and there are painful details. Hanan has drawn a small tank in the middle of the picture. And toward the top of the page are strange circular objects that seem to be leaking, one next to a house, the other onto one of the smiling faces. 

In July 2010, unprecedented flooding in Pakistan left one-fifth of the country submerged underwater and affected 20 million people, forcing them into temporary camps, schools and anywhere else they could find shelter. More recently, in September 2013, heavy monsoon rains triggered floods affecting 1.3 million people. Many have lost their livelihoods and homes and are struggling to fend for their children.

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Marie, 30, fled her home in Kitchanga when armed groups arrived and violence broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in March. Her long journey to safety – a week by foot, through fields and forest – was anything but safe. One day, at dusk, not long before reaching the Lac Vert camp, the group of women she was with found themselves surrounded by armed men.

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The thick calloused soles of the feet of the women with whom I sat in the tiny village of Maijanjaré in Niger, seven hours by road away from the capital Niamey, tell their own story. It is a story of many hardships, of back-breaking labor to dig a bit of land in extremely rocky, hard and dry soil in order to plant and hopefully harvest a bit of millet. It is a story of having to walk two hours each day to collect water.

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This story was captured during the catastrophic drought and famine that gripped the Horn of Africa in 2011that killed hundreds of thousands of people and affected millions more. Read more about the crisis, its lingering effects and CARE’s lifesaving response

Emergencies have different impacts on men and women and often change household and community dynamics. Women are disproportionately affected by natural disasters and face specific challenges in armed conflict. CARE is committed to working with women and girls, boys and men to free women’s potential to the benefit of society as a whole.

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