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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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