UN Division for the Advancement of Women

2005 News -Tsunami

Policy guidance on the gender perspectives of natural disasters

Policy guidance on trafficking in women and girls

Updates from:

UNFPA (press release)





Policy guidance on the gender perspectives of natural disasters  (23, February 2005)

The recent tsunami had devastating impacts on women and men and girls and boys in many countries in South and South-east Asia, causing loss of life, injuries, separation from and loss of loved ones, extreme trauma and loss of security, basic needs - including shelter, food and water and sanitation - and livelihoods. As with all natural disasters, it is important to include an explicit gender perspective in all responses to the humanitarian and recovery needs following the tsunami. There are gender perspectives to be taken into account in relation to impacts on both a long and short-term basis, including in relation to health, security and livelihoods. Specific vulnerabilities of women and men and girls and boys need to be identified and addressed, for example the reports of trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, or the risks that need to be taken into account, in the wake of the tsunami. The Commission on the Status of Women addressed the issue of women and gender perspectives on natural disasters at its forty-sixth session in 2002. Prior to the commission an expert group meet was organized by the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) to support preparations of the Commission (click here to view final report). The papers presented by the experts are available on the DAW website (click here to view). In addition, DAW published ”Making Risky Environments Safer” in 2004, as part of its Women2000 and Beyond series. A Secretary-General's report provided information to guide discussions at the Commission (click here to view report). During the Commission an interactive panel was held to share experiences and good practice examples (view moderator’s summary in Annex II of the report). The Commission adopted agreed conclusions which provide recommendations for action to Governments, United Nations entities and other actors. (click here to view agreed conclusions).

Policy guidance on trafficking in women and girls (23, February 2005)

The displacement which followed the tsunami disaster has made women and girls particularly vulnerable to trafficking by unscrupulous criminals, taking advantage of the situation of uncertainty, severance of family ties, and loss of livelihoods. In emergency situations, when priority attention is placed on providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of severely affected people, a focus must be maintained on the prevention of trafficking in women and girls. Trafficking in women and girls is one of the most corrosive forms of the violation of human rights that must be addressed from a gender and a human rights perspective. In addition to immediate efforts to prevent trafficking in the aftermath of the disaster, the rebuilding efforts must explicitly also tackle the root causes of trafficking in women, including poverty, women’s inferior status in the family and society, lack of legal protection and of awareness of their rights. Traffickers must be speedily prosecuted and punished, and trafficked women and girls must have access to adequate support and protection. Responsibility to prevent and fight trafficking should be explicitly included in the mandate of relief and rehabilitation mechanisms set up at the national level to coordinate the response to the disaster.The Commission on the Status of Women addressed trafficking at its forty-seventh session in 2003 when it discussed the issue of “women’s human rights and elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls as defined in the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the special session of the General Assembly entitled ‘Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century’”. An interactive panel on this topic was held during the session. In preparation for the Commission, an expert group meeting was organized by the Division for the Advancement of Women, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in Glen Cove, United States (click here to view report). The papers presented by the experts at the meeting are available on the website of the Division.The issue of trafficking in women and girls is regularly addressed by the General Assembly which adopts a biannual resolution on this topic (see Draft resolution IV Trafficking in women and girls A/RES/59/166). The resolution requests the Secretary-General to compile, in a report, successful interventions and strategies in addressing the various dimensions of trafficking in women and children. The latest report of this kind was submitted to the General Assembly at its fifty-ninth session in 2004 (Click here to view http://www.un.org/ga/59/documentation/list1.html A/59/185 and Corr.1).


BANGKOK, 24 June 2005
(Press release)

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