July 11 marks World Population Day, a moment to reflect on the rights, needs, and well-being of the planet’s 7 billion people.

For World Population Day this year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is focusing on the needs of vulnerable girls and women in emergency settings – an important topic since nearly 60 million people around the world have had to flee their homes because of violence and persecution.

UNFPA notes that during conflict, natural disasters, and other emergencies, sexual and reproductive health needs are often overlooked.

  • Pregnant women may not have access to the health care they need;
  • Women may lose access to family planning information and service; and
  • Girls and women may face higher risks of violence and exploitation.

The UN, including UNFPA, works with governments, community groups, and other partners to make sure reproductive health is part of the response to emergencies.

Specifically, UNFPA “deploys hygiene supplies, obstetric and family planning supplies, trained personnel, and other support to vulnerable populations, and works to ensure the needs of women and young people are served through both an emergency and the reconstruction phase.”

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement:

“We must staunchly protect women’s health, including their sexual and reproductive health, and address their needs as a priority in emergency relief operations. At the same time, we must continuously advance women’s human rights in times of both turmoil and calm in order to enable them to help avert conflict, stand strong should it strike, and foster the healing that is so badly needed in war-torn societies.

“As the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary this year, let us take strength from our founding mission to give hope and support to the most vulnerable. On this World Population Day, I urge countries to commit to bold results that will make 2015 a time of global action, putting people first so that they help build resilience, peace and sustainable prosperity for generations to come.”

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