▲ Up
19:02 23-09-2018
АКИpress CA-News Tazabek Turmush
UNPF: Women’s needs take back seat under threat of dzud in Mongolia
Central Asia | society | 13:21, 13 March 2017 | 1698

AKIPRESS.COM - Mongolia was struck by harsh conditions this winter, raising risks for pastoral and nomadic communities. An estimated 165,000 people were affected, according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Mongolia.

The situation has caused particular concern for women and girls, who are experiencing limited access to sexual and reproductive health supplies and care and increased vulnerability to gender-based violence.

The heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures – which can fall as low as -40 degrees Celsius even in a normal winter – have caused mass losses in livestock, a financial disaster for many herder communities.

With families struggling to cope, women’s health and hygiene needs have taken a back seat, many report.

Hygiene needs unmet

Some 127 districts in 17 provinces and two districts in Ulaanbaatar were affected by the harsh weather, which some officials feared would reach dzud levels.

For Munkhtsetseg*, the challenges began even before winter. “It was a very dry summer,” she said. “And after that, there was too much rain. This made it difficult to gather hay, which we need to store for the animals in winter.”

She and her husband, Munkhzul*, had to take out a loan to get by.

When warnings were issued about the possibility of a dzud, they and many other herders feared their livestock would not survive. In response, they sold or butchered their animals, flooding the market and causing meat prices to drop.

“We did not get much from the sales,” Munkhtsetseg shared.

They were not alone.

Narantsetseg* explained that her needs as a woman fall low on the priority list. Her family spends what little they have on items like food and fuel, so she must ration sanitary napkins.

During her most recent cycle, she said, she used only four commercially produced sanitary napkins – not nearly enough to maintain proper hygiene.

The alternative is to use less hygienic, less comfortable materials like rags.

Relief packages

With roads blocked by snow, women in remote areas have limited access to sexual and reproductive health care, including family planning supplies. Contraceptive stocks were depleted at all levels.

In response, UNFPA has provided $52,000 worth of contraceptives, and procured an additional $58,000 worth of contraceptives with state funding, to improve availability of family planning supplies to women. 

There are also fears that the worsening economic pressures, especially when coupled with high alcohol consumption, are increasing risks for women and girls.

There are no comprehensive statistics on gender-based violence in Mongolia, but evidence indicates these abuses are widespread. According to police data, over 90 per cent of victims of violence are women and girls. Few cases are prosecuted, and support services for survivors are scarce.

Herder women are additionally vulnerable when they leave their homes – even in extreme temperatures – to use the toilet. Traveling alone on the steppe leaves them vulnerable to assault and harassment.

UNFPA recently took part in a multi-organization mission, headed by the National Emergency Management Agency, to deliver relief supplies to herder families in the affected provinces of Dornod and Khentii.

UNFPA distributed dignity kits containing toiletries and sanitary products, including sanitary napkins, as well as clothing items like socks and underwear. They also include flashlights with batteries to allow women and girls to move about more safely at night, as well as whistles to use in case of distress.

Over 2,400 of these kits were distributed.


Apart from distributing relief packages, the joint mission was an opportunity to engage with communities to learn about their needs and challenges.

Women overwhelming expressed a resolve borne of experience. It is, unfortunately, not the first time they have experienced these harsh conditions. Last year’s winter was even more severe, affecting 965,000 people and killing more than 1 million livestock – a blow from which many are still trying to recover.

This year’s winter has only compounded their hardships. Still, many are undaunted, saying simply, “This is all part of the herder’s life.”

– Dr. Shinetugs Bayanbileg and Angelica Esguerra

15:57 IMF mission began to operate in Kyrgyzstan15:44 Sulukta town celebrates 150th anniversary15:35 Bishkek International Half Marathon to be held on Sept 2315:20 Delegation of Republic of Komi arrived in Issyk-Kul region15:00 California prohibits full-service restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws14:37 National Security Committee opened criminal case against 20yo member of Hizbut-Tahrir terrorist organization14:30 Commission for combating financing of terrorism created in Uzbekistan14:15 Investment forum with participation of Kyrgyz companies and government agencies to be held in Seoul14:10 Congo confirms Ebola case at Ugandan border13:57 Several killed as gunmen attack military parade in southwest Iran13:40 Tanzania ferry tragedy: At least 136 dead after overcrowded boat sinks in Lake Victoria13:25 Financial police celebrated Day of Kyrgyz language and 90th anniversary of Chingiz Aitmatov13:10 Gulbara Kaliyeva elected as chairman of Supreme Court12:58 Rosselkhoznadzor denies import of 41 tons of grapes, nectarines, plums and pomegranate from Kyrgyzstan12:42 Baktybek Turusbekov appointed vice-president of Triathlon Federation of Kyrgyzstan12:21 Kindergarten for 17mln soms opens in Batken region11:50 Speaker Jumabekov lays wreaths to Heydar Aliyev’s grave in Azerbaijan11:38 Speaker Jumabekov participated in Milli Majlis session on occasion of 100th anniversary of Azerbaijani parliament11:14 New milk processing plant to be launched in Naryn region in 201911:01 Ambassadors of Kyrgyzstan and Benin to Russia discussed Kyrgyz-Benin cooperation
© AKIpress News Agency - 2001-2018. All rights reserved
Republication of any material is prohibited without a written agreement with AKIpress News Agency. Any citation must be accompanied by a hyperlink to akipress.com.
Our address:
Moskovskaya str. 189, Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic
e-mail: english@akipress.org, akipressenglish@gmail.com;
Tel/Fax: +996(312)65-03-06