Every year on 19 August, World Humanitarian Day pays tribute to those who risk their lives in humanitarian aid. In 2019, the focus will be on the work of women in crises around the world.
Women experts in crisis and disaster areas
Women make up a large number of people who risk their own lives to save others. They are on site as managers and experts when, for example, needs have to be identified and relief supplies have to be organised and distributed. In addition, female humanitarian aid workers are often the first point of contact for women and girls in disasters and crisis areas, for example on health issues. We asked Welthungerhilfe colleagues on a global scale what drives them:
Jessica Kühnle (Turkey/Syria)
“For me, it doesn't matter where I work. I don't make my decision to work in a country or not depending on whether I expose myself to possible dangers. I go where people are in need and my work is needed. This is my motivation.“
Fatima Azizova (Bangladesh)
“The change that I can make in the world, the happiness that I bring to other people’s lives and the smile that I see on their faces motivate me. The most fulfilling moments are when I can show people that they are not alone and worthless and that humanity still exists.”
Louise Ambeke (DR Congo)
“When I see a child or a pregnant or breastfeeding woman who have gotten better after having received our help, I think it is really a pleasure because we have saved a life. It really gives me great joy and that's why I'm always motivated to work hard.”
Alina Behrens (Burkina Faso)
“It is frightening to see to which situations people in great need are exposed. Every human being has the task to contribute his or her part to help these people. I find it particularly important to stabilize the situation in the home countries, because people should be able to return to their homeland at any time to live in freedom and dignity.”
Carolin Schmidt (Südsudan)
“The years of war have destroyed much in South Sudan and left deep wounds. Now it is time to tackle and to help people to rebuild their lives, at least in some areas. The needs are enormous and the majority of those affected have not chosen their fate, especially the young people and children who were simply born into it.”
Asja Hanano (Nepal)
“Fighting injustice, contributing to a sustainable positive change, making a difference, that is what drives me. I can serve as a positive example for other women, especially in male-dominated societies. As a woman in humanitarian aid, I have better access to other women, for example on sensitive issues such as gender-based violence.”
Annika Thoerne (Mali)
“It is my concern to contribute to a fairer and solidary world in which people live together peacefully and recognise and appreciate differences as enrichment. Women are globally more vulnerable to socio-economic crises and armed conflicts. In humanitarian work, an understanding of gender-specific problems is an important basis of trust and thus indispensable for efficient work.”
Sandra Schuckmann-Honsel (Emergency aid operations in several countries)
"As a member of the emergency team, I work worldwide in crisis situations. We offer help to the civilian population in natural disasters or armed conflict situations. Humanitarian aid is targeted, which is why I quickly see success in my work. Through our work as a team, I see how the situation is improving for the population – that motivates me."
Women are crucial in the fight against hunger
World Humanitarian Day also draws attention to the people affected by crises in the world. Here, too, women play a decisive role. The promotion of women in developing countries with the aim of equal opportunities and gender equality is crucial in the fight against hunger and poverty. Women helpers in humanitarian aid and development aid are committed to this worldwide.
Our call for the World Day of Humanitarian Aid 2019
Both heads of state and government and non-state actors must ensure that women in humanitarian service – and all humanitarian workers – are afforded protection under international law.