South Sudan: Women humanitarians are honoured on World Humanitarian Day

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On World Humanitarian Day, the Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Alain Noudéhou, said more needs to be done to address the risks faced by women humanitarians and combat the pre-existing inequalities and discrimination that are reinforced by conflict and violence, leading to unique risks for women and girls.

Mr. Noudéhou said: “I want to highlight the strength of women humanitarians, and their perseverance against all the odds. In their work, they put their personal safety at risk and are often subject to discrimination and sexual harassment. They are undeniably essential to the successful operation of our humanitarian response in South Sudan. We therefore need to do more at all levels to improve their working environment and address the challenges faced by women humanitarians.

During my two year-tenure in South Sudan as Humanitarian Coordinator, I have seen the work that women humanitarians do – from the grassroots to the highest levels of coordination. They make decisions about the delivery of humanitarian assistance; they coordinate groups of actors providing protection and social services. Women also provide shelter; they prepare and distribute food; they set up schools to educate children; they provide other women with a space to talk about gender-based violence. Women often get to people when others cannot.”

In South Sudan, there are just over 40 national women-led organizations, out of 214 national NGOs, which is less than a fifth. Globally, women make up over 40 per cent of the humanitarian work force.

Mr. Noudéhou stressed that women’s role in humanitarian leadership in the country was crucial to addressing this: “Women’s participation and leadership in humanitarian action is more likely to address these inequalities. We need to ensure that women’s needs, skills and capacities are better understood and represented at all levels of the humanitarian system.”

Evidence shows that when women are involved in every part of humanitarian action, including at the decision-making and leadership levels, humanitarian response is more effective and inclusive. Women’s participation also improves the humanitarian response to gender-based violence, which increases during emergencies. In South Sudan, humanitarian funding should be directed to humanitarian action that addresses these particular needs of women and girls.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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