In most countries, adolescent girls face disadvantages compared to their male peers in family roles, divisions of labor, and access to resources because they are female and young. Even before conflicts erupt or natural disasters occur, adolescent girls' transition from childhood to adulthood is shaped by rigid expectations that have negative implications for their access to health services, schooling, and other life-shaping opportunities. In conflict and displacement settings, the institutions, systems, and community cohesion that normally support girls' development, protect them from violence, and uphold their human rights are weakened or destroyed. Family and community structures break down, while traditional and social norms disintegrate, affecting adolescent girls in unique and devastating ways.
Yet, adolescent girls in humanitarian settings should not just be seen as a vulnerable group; girls possess enormous capacity for becoming a source of transformation in their families and communities. Growing evidence supports that investing in girls' economic and social empowerment can reduce their risks of experiencing violence and is an effective pathway to sustainable development. Likewise, conflict and crisis situations often lead to shifting gender roles that open up possibilities for positive social changes, resulting in an opportunity for gender norms to change for the better.