World Humanitarian Day

Tawaf is a beneficary of IRC / UN Women program that gives up to 1000 USD small business start up grants after a 9 day small business training program. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig
Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

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When crisis occurs, people’s lives change in an instant. It may be a flood that sweeps away homes and livelihoods in a flash; or a conflict that tears apart families forever, targeting those who had no role in its making.

On this year's World Humanitarian Day, 19 August, the United Nations and partners are advocating for the protection of civilians, humanitarian workers, and all those affected by conflict.

UN Women statement for World Humanitarian Day

On World Humanitarian Day, UN Women fully supports the UN's #NotATarget campaign, and calls on everyone to "come together to change the status quo—for women and girls, and for all civilians caught up in crises".Read more»

Conflicts impact the lives of women, girls, men and boys differently. Women and girls typically take on a higher burden of care-related tasks, such as providing food and water and caring for the sick. As society’s protection structures and support networks break down, and people flee impacted areas, women face heightened risks.

Adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 per cent more likely to be out of school when compared to girls in other, conflict-free, countries. Girls are often kept out of school due to concerns about safety.

Sixty percent of preventable maternal mortality deaths take place in settings of conflict, displacement and natural disasters. Every day, 507 women and adolescent girls die from pregnancy and childbirth complications in emergency settings.

Closing the gap in humanitarian action

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Top Stories

Photo: UN Women Europe and Central Asia/ Rena Effendi

Women refugees and migrants get a place of their own
Complete with Middle Eastern music, smells of home-cooked recipes and plenty of smiling faces, The Women’s Corner in Belgrade feels like a best friend’s living room. It offers a place to women refugees, migrants and Serbian women to exchange experiences.

Olesya Arkhypova (right) participates in interactive theatre. Photo: UN Women/Alexander Alfyorov

Internally displaced women of Ukraine find voice through interactive theatre
Interactive theatre workshops and performances for displaced women from eastern Ukraine encourage them to speak out about the barriers they face in new communities and seek realistic solutions.

A woman refugee holds her son next to a fence in Vinojug Transit Centre in FYR Macedonia. Photo: UN Women/Ventura Formicone

UN Women report recommends recognition of gender-based violence as a basis for asylum
A new report prepared by a team of international lawyers for UN Women finds that legal gaps in the European Union expose women survivors of gender-based persecution to the risk of being denied asylum.

Sonja Dimitrijoska. Photo: UN Women/Mirjana Nedeva

From where I stand: Sonja Dimitrijoska
Sonja Dimitrijoska, 39, from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is a humanitarian aid worker with the NGO La Strada, a partner organization of UN Women and Oxfam in their joint work to provide support to women and girl refugees in transit centres in the Western Balkans.

Svitlana Chychyrko at the rehearsal of the performance on women IDPs. Photo: UN Women/Eugenia Kuznetsova

From where I stand: Svitlana Chychyrko 
Svitlana Chychyrko was displaced by conflict in eastern Ukraine when she was seven-months pregnant. With determination and support from her peers, she overcame barriers and is now an advocate for the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in host communities.

Svitlana Chychyrko at the rehearsal of the performance on women IDPs. Photo: UN Women/Eugenia Kuznetsova

From where I stand: Lenche Zdravkin
Lenche Zdravkin is a legend in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for her work with the refugees. She helps refugees and migrants when they stop at her house by the railroad, providing food, water, clothes and other necessities.


In 2016, UN Women and Oxfam supported partners in hte former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia to provide services to refugee women, including psychosocial support, advice on human rights and asylum, workshops, language classes as well as clothing and hygiene kits.


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Report on the Legal Rights of Women and Girl Asylum Seekers in the European Union
This report assesses EU member states' practice in terms of reviewing asylum applications of women survivors of gender-based violence.

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation about protecting those affected by conflict using #NotATarget on social media. A social media package along with images in English, Spanish and French is available here.

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See our coverage of women in humanitarian action 2016