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Adolescent Girls with Disabilities in Humanitarian Settings

“I Am Not ‘Worthless’—I Am a Girl with a Lot to Share and Offer”

Emma Pearce, Kathryn Paik and Omar J. Robles

Keywords: conflict; crisis; gender; refugees; violence; Women’s Refugee Commission

Adolescent girls with disabilities face multiple intersecting and often mutually

reinforcing forms of discrimination and oppression, which are exacerbated in situations

of crisis. Gender norms that define how women and men should act are

socially constructed and learned; they vary across contexts, and interact with other

factors, including socioeconomic status, ethnic group, age, and disability. In crisis

situations, family and community structures break down, while traditional and

social norms disintegrate, all of which affect adolescent girls with disabilities in

unique and devastating ways. Drawing on the Women’s Refugee Commission’s

work, including personal narratives collected from girls with disabilities, in this

report we review how age, gender, and disability influence identity and power in

relationships, households, and communities affected by crisis. This report outlines

principles for including girls with disabilities in adolescent girls’ programming,

promoting safe access to humanitarian assistance, and mitigating the risk of violence,

abuse, and exploitation.

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