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Supporting girls affected by war

More than 200 million girls live in war zones. Girls are disproportionately affected by the horrors of war.

Inequalities with boys are magnified during conflict, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence, being forced into early marriage or the denial of basic rights including access to healthcare and education.

Girls are more than twice as likely as boys to be out of school if they live in conflict areas, one in five female refugees have experienced sexual violence, and nine out of ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage are conflict affected states. Read our Gender Matters 2020 report here.


How we're helping girls

Rania in Gaza

“God willing, if I manage to get out, my hope is to fulfil my dream which is to study law. I would defend the children of Palestine. This is why I want to study law so I can defend them.”  Rania*, 16 

Rania* and her family received different kinds of child protection support from our strategic partner MA’AN Development Center, including Psychological First Aid (PFA), individual counseling, and she was integrated into community center activities, such as groups counseling sessions and recreational activities.

She and her mother participated in outdoor trips, and her family received awareness raising on child rights and child protection risks, including child marriage. Due to the family’s poor economic situation, the family received a water tank to increase their storage capacity due to the ongoing electricity crises. In addition, they received food parcels, and the family was supported to open their own small family business.

MA’AN holds awareness raising sessions and counselling on child protection risks, with a special focus on child marriage. These sessions target the girls and their parents or caregivers. MA’AN also carries out community-based advocacy campaigns focusing on child rights and child development, with customisation of topics in accordance with the issues of the targeted communities, including child marriage as one of the topics. 

Forever changed, forever hopeful

The pain and resilience of girls in war: an intimate portrayal by nine girls and three female conflict photographers.

Photographs taken by; Lynsey Addario, Alessandra Sanguinetti & Esther Ruth Mbabazi

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Meet Golmina

“[A] girl’s education is important because when she is a teacher, she can educate others and there will be more teachers. If she becomes an engineer, she will help others. If she becomes a doctor, it can benefit the other females a lot. So whatever she becomes, it will be good for [the] future of the country. Peace will come if we all educate ourselves.” Golmina*, 12

Girls face specific cultural and socio-economic barriers preventing them from accessing education in Afghanistan, particularly in remote rural and insecure areas and especially during adolescence.

Save the Children are taking a multi-faced approach focusing on girls’ learning outcomes, their interpersonal relationships, the social, physical, and economic environments surrounding them and the wider political and economic climate.

Since 2017, STAGES programme has supported parents, community members and teachers to help improve education for 324,958 children/adolescents, 33,695 (69% female) of them enrolled in project community-based classes in 16 provinces of Afghanistan - 23,310 girls are now in school including 3,181 adolescent girls who have remained in school and successfully transitioned to the secondary level.

Forever changed, forever hopeful

The pain and resilience of girls in war: an intimate portrayal by nine girls and three female conflict photographers.

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Lydia in Uganda

“War usually affects girls more than boys, like the way things happened to me. It is not the same for women as men. They are not equal.” Lydia*, 15

Uganda now hosts 1.4 million refugees, the third most in the world. Most have fled conflict in South Sudan and DR Congo, and more continue to arrive daily. 60% are children. Although the largest population is South Sudanese refugees, there are more than 400,000 refugees from DRC now living in Uganda and thousands more arrive every month.

Uganda is recognised as having one of the most progressive refugee policies in the world, but funding is decreasing – especially for child protection – and basic services are struggling to keep running.

Save the Children supports child refugees from DRC in a number of ways, such as running Child Friendly Spaces (safe places where vulnerable children can learn, play and make friends) and early learning centres, supporting schools and getting children back into education, providing psychosocial support and helping child survivors of sexual violence.

We have case workers who identify and support the most at-risk children, and feeding programmes for infants and young children at risk of malnutrition. The Kyaka II refugee settlement now hosts more than 120,000 refugees and has almost doubled in size in the past year. New arrivals are often malnourished and in critical need of child protection services, such as psychosocial support and child friendly spaces. 

Forever changed, forever hopeful

The pain and resilience of girls in war: an intimate portrayal by nine girls and three female conflict photographers.

Take action