One month after Ecuador earthquake, girls must remain a priority

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QUITO, ECUADOR - One month after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc in parts of Ecuador, child rights organisation Plan International is calling for greater action to protect the more than 250.000 girls, boys and teenagers who have been affected by the disaster, particularly girls and teenage women who are the most vulnerable in these types of situations.
Plan International is distributing aid to thousands of families affected by the earthquake one month ago.

If girls and young women are not prioritised now, in the aftermath of the Ecuador earthquake. there is a real chance they will suffer in the long-term, said Rossana Viteri, Country Director of Plan International Ecuador.

It is vital we focus on the wellbeing and protection of girls and teenage women given that the emergency response will be more effective, now and in the future, if it is done with a gender focus.

In Ecuador, 69% of girls aged 10 to 15 have suffered some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime (EDNA, 2012).

“We know that when a disaster happens, violent situations and abuses increase, especially in shelters. This is why we need to pay special attention to protection issues, like Plan International is currently doing,” she added.

“There is a risk that parents may decide to pull girls out of school in order for them to work,” added Viteri. “The right to education is fundamental and all girls and boys should be able to exercise it equally.”

All of this can have long-term repercussions and make it more difficult to break out of the poverty circle.

The right to play

Plan International Ecuador’s response, focussed on protection, education and the right to play, will reach 75.000 people in Manabi province, including 30.000 girls and boys. This includes setting up child-friendly spaces where children have somewhere safe they can go, play and continue with some semblance of normalcy while they process everything they’ve been through.

Meanwhile, parents are being trained in areas such as self-esteem, resilience, nutrition and protection for children. This way, families will know how to prevent or act in case any problems arise. 

Plan International Ecuador has already distributed more than 3.500 food and hygiene kits to affected communities in Manabi.

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