Dignity Kits distribution begins for Barbuda women and girls impacted by Hurricane Irma and Jose

UN Women and UNFPA fast track funds to Antigua and Barbuda to help women and girls

Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Foto: Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Gender Affairs
Photo: Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Gender Affairs

A joint effort by UN Women and UNFPA started the distribution of “dignity kits” containing basic health and hygiene products for displaced women and girls from the Caribbean island of Barbuda, as they arrived in Antigua, escaping Hurricane Irma.The catastrophic hurricane has driven the entire population of Barbuda, a small island in the eastern Caribbean, to its twin island of Antigua. Out of 1,600 people evacuated, an estimated 773 were women and girls, with unique and often-overlooked needs, such as access to hygiene and sanitary products.

Dignity Kits address unmet needs of women and girls

“There is a massive need for these products, because although there was mass distribution of different [aid] products, not a lot of focus was placed on the sanitary items that women and girls needed in particular,” [UR1] explained Farmala Jacobs, the acting Executive Director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs, the national gender machinery of Antigua and Barbuda.

Foto: Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Gender Affairs
Photo: Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Gender Affairs

 With the first allocation of USD 15,000 from UN Women, which will be supplemented by UNFPA funds in the second tranche, 300 dignity kits were prepared by the Directorate of Gender Affairs. The kits contain basic health and hygiene products for women and girls, such as soap, underwear and sanitary napkins.

“When I was talking to the [relief] coordinators at the distribution point to inform them about the items that we were bringing in to distribute, two women from Barbuda immediately ran to us, because they had heard what we were bringing and they were looking around to see if anyone had sanitary napkins and other products that women and girls needed,” reflected Nadia John, a representative of the Barbuda Council, a local authority that manages public health, utilities, roads and more.

Shelter Safety and Security for Women and Girls

Photo:: Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Gender Affairs
Photo: Antigua and Barbuda Directorate of Gender Affairs

With Hurricane Jose still posing a threat, residents of Irma-ravaged Barbuda are being temporarily housed in shelters and private homes, some with family, in Antigua. As in most displacement settings, women and girls need protection from gender-based violence in crowded shelters.

Farmala Jacobs and her team are already on top of this, prioritizing the implementation of guidelines and protocols for sharing resources and spaces in the shelters to ensure the safety of women and girls.“We are hoping that with UN Women’s support, we can also put in mechanisms[UR2]  to monitor the shelters and to make sure that all persons within the shelters have full access to information about safety and prevention of violence,” she added.Together with community volunteers, the Directorate of Gender Affairs distributed 165 dignity kits on Friday evening, and the remaining 155 were distributed on Saturday. With over 90 per cent of Barbuda’s infrastructure destroyed by Hurricane Irma, it is unclear when Barbuda residents will be able to return to their island. UN Women and UNFPA will continue to work with the Government to meet the needs of women and girls of the island displaced by Hurricane Irma and Jose