Council Commentary

The Girls in Emergencies Collaborative

The poorest girls in the poorest communities around the world exist in a near constant state of emergency because of vulnerabilities brought on by their age, sex, and economic status. Humanitarian emergencies—such as those caused by extreme events related to climate change—intensify pressures on girls to act as caregivers and greatly increase their vulnerabilities.

This week, world leaders are gathered in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. A new commentary in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Global Health draws much-needed attention to the plight of adolescent girls at risk during humanitarian emergencies.

The commentary—authored by Dr. Holly G. Atkinson, Program Director for Human Rights, Arnhold Institute for Global Health at Mount Sinai, and Judith Bruce, senior associate and policy analyst at the Population Council—calls on the global community to:

  1. Identify places where girls are subject to both human rights abuses and climate challenges and preemptively invest there to empower girls
  2. Increase adolescent girls’ ability to assist in the delivery of services for health promotion, human development, and climate mitigation
  3. Build girls’ social and economic assets in ways that survive sudden displacements
  4. Foster adolescent girls’ knowledge and control of green technologies
  5. Monitor the effects of the climate crisis on adolescent girls.

Atkinson and Bruce are leaders in the Girls in Emergencies Collaborative, which in the same issue of the Annals of Global Health has published a Statement and Action Agenda that outlines a collective effort to meet the needs of adolescent girls in emergencies who are displaced within and across borders around the world.