Honouring women humanitarians this World Humanitarian Day

This World Humanitarian Day, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) honours the contribution of women humanitarians and the life-saving and life-changing difference they make for people affected by crises around the world.

On this day ACFID calls on all state leaders as well as parties to conflict to ensure that humanitarians, including local staff and women humanitarians, are afforded the protection they deserve under international law. ACFID also calls on all humanitarian organisations to improve gender equality within the sector, which includes addressing ongoing safety concerns and enabling more women to move into leadership roles. 

CEO of ACFID, Marc Purcell, said:

“On the tenth anniversary of World Humanitarian Day, we pay tribute to the 250,000 women humanitarians around the world. Across all levels and roles, these women provide life-saving support in incredibly dangerous places. We acknowledge their tireless work as frontline responders, organisational and community leaders, advocates for women’s and girl’s rights in crises, peacebuilders, and drivers of effective humanitarian action.

“An effective humanitarian system is one the recognises the value and impact of women humanitarians.

“We join the international community in calling for improved gender equality across all agencies involved in this work. From on-the-ground support to increasing female leadership roles, everyone has a role to play in campaigning for a more equitable sector.”

Commenting on the unique abilities of women humanitarians, ACFID Humanitarian Advisor, Jennifer Clancy, said:

“The overall reach of humanitarian operations rises when women humanitarians are engaged. In many communities, women can access people and areas, and share crucial information about the distinct needs of women and girls, that would otherwise be unavailable.

“The unique perspectives and insights are particularly effective when dealing with violence against women and girls, which studies show we know increases during a crisis.”

Commenting on the safety of women humanitarians, Clancy said:

“Last year saw the second highest number of attacks on aid workers on record. Evidence also indicates that women humanitarians are more likely to experience assaults, robbery, and sexual violence.

“A large part of addressing gender equality in this sector is addressing the safety risks faced everyday by women humanitarians.

“On an international level, respect and adherence to international law, which includes protection for humanitarian workers, is critical. Better awareness and training, investigative systems, and increased advocacy is needed to prevent erosion of compliance.

This World Humanitarian Day, ACFID will hold a celebration and memorial honouring women in this field. This event is in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross, The Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, the United Nations International Organization for Migration, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Information Centre in Canberra.

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