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During emergencies, adolescent girls face heightened risk of personal safety violations and human rights abuses. They may forego meals, engage in unsafe livelihoods, assume disproportionate levels of domestic burden, or marry early to relieve their families’ financial responsibilities. Although they are integral to their families’ survival and face harsh realities, humanitarian response — as currently designed — typically neglects them as a population. A paradigm shift is critical to ensure that emergency response does not have adverse consequences to their emotional, physical, or psychosocial development.

The Coalition for Adolescent Girls convened a two-part consultation in July and November 2011, in which experts in humanitarian response, child protection, and gender issues collectively articulated the urgent need for new humanitarian strategies around adolescent girls.

The group defined the current contours of practice, discourse, and advocacy around this population in order to map out the following actions needed to shift the emergency response paradigm:

I.          Reinforce What We Know and Identify What We Must Learn.

II.         Prioritize a Learning Agenda.

III.        Increase Donor Engagement to Target Adolescent Girl Populations at the 
            Funding Level.

IV.       Build Capacity in the Humanitarian Sector to Target Adolescent Girls.

V.        Consider Adolescent Girls. Engage Them.  Enable Them to Lead.

The result is a call to action in “Missing the Emergency: Shifting the Paradigm for Relief to Adolescent Girls.” Adolescent girls cannot wait for action from the humanitarian community. Each day in emergency settings increases their stakes for survival and well-being. Left only to rely on their own resilience, they represent, in the words of the Haiti Adolescent Girls Network, the “missed emergency.”