Preserving dignity of women & girls in emergencies
During emergency and crisis situations, priority is usually given to the provision of food, shelter and security when settling populations at refugee settlements or refugee camps. However, there is need to also take into account the special hygiene, dignity and health needs of women and girls.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, there are about 1.4 million refugees in Uganda. A 2017 UNICEF report indicates that 86% of them are women and children. The country programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) in Uganda is supporting the health department to ensure that refugee mothers from the Kyangwali refugee settlement who deliver at health facilities not only have access to a clean and skilled delivery, but that they also receive dignity kits.
This kit is procured and put together by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the lead UN agency for reproductive health. The kit is meant to help the mothers and babies to maintain their dignity and have access to health facility based deliveries within refugee settings. Preserving dignity boosts the women’s self-esteem and confidence, which is crucial in coping with the stress that comes with fleeing from conflict in one’s home country.
AAH-I supports the distribution of these kits at health centers managed by AAH-I. The distribution is aimed at every new refugee who delivers from target health facilities. The assumption is that during escape from their home countries, expectant mothers might not be completely prepared for their newborn deliveries. For the mother, the kit contains a ‘leso’ (large shawl), slippers, soap, cotton wool, knickers and a bucket. The baby’s kit contains items to keep the baby clean and warm after being delivered. It contains a baby shawl, baby cap, socks and baby clothes.
Due to proximity to the new caseload within Kyangwali refugee settlement, most of the child deliveries by refugee mothers takes place at Kasonga and Kyangwali health centres. A total of 250 dignity kits were received from UNFPA and distributed by AAH-I in these two health centres.