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Somalia: Women and girls left vulnerable in worsening drought

With the drought intensifying in Somalia, the protection of women and girls is at a higher risk now than ever. Protection is one of the least funded clusters at only 11.4%. With $127.7Million required, only $14.5 Million has been allocated.

recent CARE report showed that as gender inequality goes up, food security goes down. Women are eating last and least. In some parts where men would report eating fewer meals, women were not eating any meals at all.

Higher risks of violence and child marriages

The worsening drought in Somalia has resulted in women having to walk farther to access water and basic services leaving them vulnerable to sexual violence. More girls are dropping out of school putting them at risk of early marriages. Parents who can no longer afford to pay for schools are resorting to prioritizing boys over girls.
The key protection concern is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was noted that there was an increase in FGM as girls were away from school. FGM opens the avenue of early marriages. As the drought exacerbates, many girls are dropping out of school to support their parents in the food search. 12-year-old Susan had to drop out to help her parents.

Millions of people have been displaced resulting in high levels of family separation that is, inadvertently, exposing women and girls to Gender-Based Violence (GBV).  As families struggle to cope with the current drought situation, women are taking on more responsibilities as female-headed households increase. Women are responsible for 90% of preparing and buying food. With the onset of the drought, women’s businesses have been adversely affected forcing many to lose their sources of income.

Habiba is among the thousands of Somali women who have faced emotional and psychological abuse. As a divorced mother and sole breadwinner of 9 children, Habiba encountered stigmatization at the IDP camp she fled to due to her marital status and as a result was ostracized.

Iman Abdullahi, CARE International Country Director Said, “The erosion of women’s and girl’s rights is detrimental to the progress made over the years. Reports from those displaced by drought indicate a 200% rise in GBV cases, particularly intimate partner violence and rape, compared to the same period in 2021. Early marriage of girls rose by 3% between Oct 2021 and March 2022. Linked with that are the risks of harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation. This calls for an increase in support for the protection sector, especially on this International Day for Rural Women.”

Currently, CARE is working in IDP camps to offer not only psychosocial support to affected women and girls but also health and education support.

Source: CARE

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