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UN pays special tribute to women humanitarians

  • Published at 02:02 pm August 19th, 2019
Antonio Guterres
File photo: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during his visit to the United Nations School in San Jose, Costa Rica July 16, 2018 Reuters

Across the globe, 250,000 aid workers are women-- a figure that amounts to more than 40% of the humanitarian workforce

Marking the 10th anniversary of World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations (UN) is set to honor the contributions of tens of thousands of women humanitarian aid workers who have provided life-saving support to millions of people caught in crises, in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres passed this message via a video call on Monday, according to UN office in Dhaka.

“This year, we will pay special tribute to women humanitarians and the huge difference they have made for millions of women, men and children in urgent need,” he said.

The UN Secretary-General said that women humanitarians are on the front lines, from that supporting civilians caught up in crisis to addressing disease outbreaks. 

Across the globe, 250,000 aid workers are women-- a figure that amounts to more than 40% of the humanitarian workforce. 

However, aid work is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Since August 2003, more than 4,500 aid workers of all genders have been killed, injured, detained, assaulted or kidnapped while carrying out their work.

That equates to five attacks per week on average. Women humanitarians are at particularly high risk of robbery, sexual assault and other forms of violence.

On this World Humanitarian Day, the UN and its partners are set to launch the #WomenHumanitarians global campaign to pay special tribute and raise support for the working women for saving lives and alleviating human suffering.

The campaign tells the stories of 24 women over 24 hours to show the range and diversity of their roles in humanitarian action.

They include a driver in the Central African Republic who brings food to people in need; an international model who has established a school for girls in her native Democratic Republic of the Congo; a midwife in Liberia who has cared for mothers and babies for three decades and has more than 800 girls named after her, and a woman who provides legal advice to refugee women and children from Somalia.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said, on this World Humanitarian Day, they want to showcase the commitment and drive of some truly amazing women in the humanitarian community.

"The dedication of these women to help the world’s most vulnerable people is admirable, particularly those women who are often the first to respond in their communities when faced with a crisis,” he said.