International Women’s Day 2019: Women surviving in emergency settings

Millions of women in the Eastern Mediterranean Region continue to be affected by years of war, displacement, and poverty. The conditions these women face everyday are extremely harsh. From losing their husbands and children, to fleeing their homes and struggling to find safe shelter, their journeys are filled with severe hardship. As conflict continues unabated, women remain remarkably resilient and strong. On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, we show a few examples of these brave women surviving in emergency contexts.

Fifty-year-old Wadha, a widow and mother of 8 children, has travelled hundreds of kilometres from Al-Hasakeh governorate in north-east Syria to Damascus in search of health care that is not available in her home town. She is suffering from severe pain in her chest, back and kidneys. Since the death of her husband, she has been raising her children and managing the family’s small farm on her own. “Having to be both mother and father is never easy, and harvesting the crops on my own is exhausting. And of course the war has made everything worse,” says Wadha. “But I have to go on, for the sake of my children. Many of the women in my village have lost sons and husbands, but we carry on. We can’t give up.”
Doctor Saba, an obstetrician and gynecologist, works with Heevie nongovernmental organization, one of WHO’s implementing partners in Dahuk governorate. She is very passionate about women’s health issues. “Because I fled from my home in Mosul and saw first-hand the havoc that war causes, I am reminded that kindness and empathy are fundamental characteristics that an obstetrician and gynecologist should possess.”
Doctor Saba works with a team of male health professionals to deliver healthcare to the Yazidi community in Zumar sub-district, Talafar District. More often than not, women prefer to consult with her because she is female. “The female patients feel comfortable with me. I examine, treat and counsel every patient that comes to me. I know what happened during the war and how this has left many people traumatized.”