ISLAMABAD: Oxfam in Pakistan in collaboration with the National Humanitarian Forum (NHN) and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) launched a series of first response trainings exclusively for women humanitarian workers to take leadership roles in humanitarian efforts.
Preparing Women for Leadership roles in Humanitarian Response is a unique Oxfam initiative, to train female mid-management professionals from national/local NGOs and local government departments in disaster response preparedness across Pakistan. The launch was held at the Hill View Hotel and 30 female humanitarian responders will be participating in the week-long trainings.
The launch also marked Oxfam’s part in the Grand Bargain: an agreement between more than 30 of the biggest donors and aid providers, which aims to get more means into the hands of people in need. It is essentially a Grand Bargain on Efficiency between donors and humanitarian organisations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian action.
Speaking at the event, Oxfam Pakistan Country Director Muhammad Qazilbash said, “Oxfam gives emphasis on recognising and ensuring the rights of women. We promote women’s engagement as leaders in times of emergency, so that their voices are heard directly at all levels of decision-making. These trainings will provide women with knowledge on women’s rights, leadership skills and disaster preparedness so that they are better equipped to lead their communities and know their rights in times of a humanitarian crisis.”
He said that women bring vital skills, resources and experience to humanitarian response. They are among the first responders to a crisis, taking risks and playing critical roles in the survival of families and communities. Women are often responsible for the care and emotional rebuilding of communities in the aftermath of a crisis and they often have strong local knowledge and links with others in the area where they live, which is a critical resource during humanitarian response.
While talking about the need to engage women as humanitarian leaders, NHN Chairperson Muhammad Imad said, “Behind every successful man there is a woman and there are centuries of wisdom behind such quotes. We hope to advance women’s leadership in emergencies so that these leaders encourage other women to join the field of humanitarian work.”
Oxfam aims to increase women’s access to resources and work with women humanitarian workers from national and local NGOs as well as local government departments to promote protection in disasters, including providing safe spaces for women. Safe, inclusive spaces that foster women’s leadership, agency, and collective capacity to challenge violence and abuse in times of crisis.
Strengthening Participatory Organisation CEO Salim Malik spoke on the importance of women joining humanitarian efforts as they are the first to be strongly affected by disasters. He said, “Ultimately, through such workshops, women humanitarian leaders will be able to respond effectively, by ensuring commitments to international humanitarian standards and supporting affected communities in a dignified manner with a gender balanced perspective.”
Oxfam intends to bring about long term change in transforming gender relations in communities. By opening the space for women’s leadership alongside men, this contributes to women’s empowerment and the transformation of women’s positions in households and communities.
Published in Daily Times, March 6th 2018.