“. . . . Disasters of such magnitude cause irreparable damage to the lives of those who already have so little. I witnessed this when I returned to Nepal to help with relief efforts three weeks after the earthquake and then again a year later, when I returned as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Program.
I thought again of Nepal when I watched the coverage of the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria last month. Even before the earthquake struck, the socioeconomic conditions in Syria were dire, with approximately 90 percent of the population living in poverty and millions in need of humanitarian assistance. Many are now homeless and lack the means to rebuild their lives or keep their families safe.
Crises aren’t just moments of catastrophe: They expose deep existing inequalities. Those living in poverty, especially women and girls, bear the brunt. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, lack of sanitation, health facilities and safety disproportionately affect women. In my time as a goodwill ambassador, I have seen up close how women and girls are often the last to go back to school and the last to get basic services like clean water, vaccines, identity cards and counseling. They are typically the last to get jobs and loans. . . . . “