• © ICRC / P. Yazdi / v-p-ug-e-00285

    Uganda. Arum Health Centre, Pader district. Three hours ago, 24-year-old Grace Akot gave birth to a little boy. He is her third child, but the first one to be born in a clinic. "I know it’s safer. And then it was really nice to get the mama kit."

    A "mama kit" includes a clean razor blade for cutting the umbilical cord, cotton, disinfectant, a nice cloth to wrap around the mother after delivery, a plastic sheet to protect the bed and, most important, a high-quality towel. Mama kits are distributed at ICRC-supported health clinics in northern Uganda, with the aim of ensuring a safe and hygenic delivery.

  • Photo, Afghanistan. Kabul. An ICRC hygiene promoter teaches hygiene awareness to women living in the poorest parts of Kabul.
    • Afghanistan. Kabul. An ICRC hygiene promoter teaches hygiene awareness to women living in the poorest parts of Kabul.
      © ICRC / J. Barry / V-P-af-n-00303-12a

    The disruption of traditional living patterns can have drastic consequences for the availability, safety, and privacy of hygiene and sanitation. Armed conflict may aggravate economic deprivation and extreme living conditions, increasing the spread of diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and cholera.

  • Photo, Sri Lanka. Kiran camp for displaced persons, Batticaloa. A mother and daughter welcome the arrival of ICRC hygiene kits.

    Hygiene kits generally consist of personal items such as soap, shampoo, and toothbrushes, plus general materials like laundry soap, jerrycans, mosquito nets and tarpaulins. Women are often unable to obtain their usual sanitary protection when displaced, so the kits also include culturally-appropriate sanitary towels.

  • Photo, Cambodia. ICRC physical rehabilitation centre, Battambang. A mine victim begins the long process of learning to walk again.

    Higher rates of illiteracy among women and less contact with the public sphere can mean that women and girls have too little information about the threat of mines. Female mine victims often have less money than men in an otherwise similar situation, and may well encounter cultural restrictions on their mobility. Both factors can prevent them from obtaining artificial limbs and using rehabilitation services. To help make these services available to all, the ICRC is currently running prosthetic and rehabilitation programmes in 25 countries around the world.

  • Photo, Sudan. Khartoum. An elderly women learning to walk again at the ICRC-supported government limb-fitting centre, which also trains prosthetic/orthotic technicians.

    Anti-personnel landmines and other explosive remnants of war strike blindly and senselessly, and the victims are usually civilians. Landmine injuries can be particularly devastating for women; given that they are more likely to be valued for their physical appearance and ability to perform domestic tasks, they may be deemed unmarriageable, or their husbands may desert them.

  • Photo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Femme Plus hospital, Goma. A mother with HIV.

    Women in conflict and displacement situations may be at greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, because they may be forced to have sex in exchange for food, water or the protection that they or their children need in order to survive.

  • Photo, Nigeria. Oshogbo. A young man demonstrates the use of a condom to his peers as part of the Nigerian Red Cross HIV/AIDS programme, which is supported by the ICRC.

    The programme teaches selected groups of students about HIV/AIDS. In turn, these students teach others in their environment, promoting HIV awareness among young people.

  • Photo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Panzi hospital, Bukavu. Victims of sexual violence receive treatment for their physical and psychological injuries.

    A programme for rape victims at ICRC-supported health facilities in the eastern part of the DRC includes preventative treatment against infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The programme also helps victims to deal with psychological trauma, stigma and possible rejection by their families or communities.

  • Photo, Gaza. A Palestinian woman wounded during the fighting in Gaza is carried into Shifa Hospital.

    During armed conflict, women, along with the rest of the civilian population, risk injury and death. However, international humanitarian law stipulates that civilians must be spared from the effects of hostilities. As such, civilians are protected by this body of law.

    Medical personnel perform life-saving tasks when they assist those injured by the fighting. Therefore they require full, unconditional and secure access to victims at all times.

  • Photo, Zimbabwe. Pumula. An ICRC doctor and a sister from the Ministry of Health (MoH) distribute mosquito nets to mothers.

    Malaria is Zimbabwe's second biggest killer, after AIDS. By distributing 1,000 nets to the two most vulnerable groups – children under five and pregnant mothers – the ICRC and MoH aim to drastically reduce the risk of catching the disease. The distribution programme ran in conjunction with courses for nurses on malaria prevention and treatment.

  • Photo, Central African Republic. Nabarka. A Central African Red Cross coordinator explains how to fetch drinking water without contaminating it.

    Having enough fresh water for drinking, food preparation and sanitation is essential to the health of the entire family. It is often women and children who are responsible for fetching water, which can greatly increase their risk of suffering violence and injury from landmines or attacks.

  • Photo, Peru. Chorrillos high security detention centre for women, Lima. Discussion between an ICRC delegate and a sick detainee in her cell.

    Many female detainees do not have access to appropriate health care, including regular check-ups, treatment, and medicine. In some instances, treatment is controlled by non-medical staff who lack the qualifications to make appropriate medical assesments.

  • Photo, Colombia. Buen Pastor Women's Prison, patio 4. An ICRC delegate talks with an inmate who is holding her four-month-old daughter.

    Women who are pregnant while in custody need access to obstetric, prenatal and postnatal care to ensure the safe delivery of their babies and the well-being of mother and child afterwards. Nursing mothers and mothers with young children also need proper nutrition. Children detained with ther mothers need to be regularly immunized against diseases and must have regular acces to fresh air and sunlight.

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