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World Humanitarian Day letter to world leaders

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As the UN’s World Humanitarian Day recognises the contribution of women humanitarians working on the frontline of emergencies, more than 300 women aid workers, and their allies, have signed an open letter demanding that world leaders better meet the needs of women and girls caught up in conflict and crisis.  

Women and girls are particularly vulnerable during emergencies and often bear the brunt of the impact of forced displacement. Evidence tells us that issues such as gender-based violence (which includes sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, child marriage, abduction, and female genital mutilation) spike quickly during crises and remain at extremely high levels throughout. Meanwhile in protracted emergencies access to services can be hugely restricted. That means girls don’t get an education, and women don’t have the opportunity to access decent and safe work.

Dear World Leaders,

As women working on the frontline of emergencies, we welcome that this year’s World Humanitarian Day will be dedicated to raising the voices of women aid workers. We wish to pay particular tribute to those colleagues who are also part of the communities where we work and who help others while often trying to rebuild their own lives.

Women caught up in disasters are sometimes portrayed as helpless victims and passive recipients of foreign kindness, but nothing could be further from the truth. Whether working for aid agencies, or supporting their families and their communities in other ways, local women and girls are the invisible face of recovery in some of the world’s most difficult places.   

Together we fight for those who have been forgotten, whose rights have been violated, and whose pleas for help have been ignored. As we celebrate the role of women humanitarians with uplifting stories of personal sacrifice and collective resilience, let us not lose sight of how much more there is still to do before we can say that we truly honor these women. 

Whether it’s the scarce resources to tackle the epidemic of gender-based violence; the “Global Gag Rule” designed to restrict sexual and reproductive health services; the poor provision of transformative programmes such as education and livelihoods; the slow progress to end sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse; or the pittance of funding that finds its way to local women’s organisations, we have seen the gap between rhetoric and reality widen in recent years when it comes to women and girls living in crises. This gap cannot stand, we cannot continue to fail women by letting global action stop at words alone.

The upcoming G7 in Biarritz will be the first of many international events over the next 18 months where our leaders will celebrate the strides made towards gender equality in the 25 years since the Beijing Declaration. These will be empty words without the recognition that we continue to leave many women and girls behind – especially those living and working in humanitarian contexts. We call on you to ensure that these upcoming conversations centre on how to better protect and empower the women and girls being left behind, to listen to women and girls and plan according to their needs, and to agree to concrete plans for making political declarations a reality on the ground.

Yours in partnership,

Abdijabar Rashid Maalim, GBV Prevention Officer 

Abdijamal Hassan Mire, Field Manager

Abdimahad Abshir, Senior Finance Officer 

Abdisamad Abdinor Mohamed, Rule of Law Ffficer

Abdullahi Askar , Senior Monitoring and Evaluation officer 

Abebech Mammo, Social Service Officer

Abukar Mohamud Ga'al, Deputy Director for Programs at International Rescue Committee

Adam Mukhtar, M&E Officer

Adhanom Solomon, Field Coordinator

Aditi Ghosh, Deputy Humanitarian Director

Adnan, Country Director

Ahsan Abbas, Senior Supply Chain Coordinator

Alex Sitwaminya , GBV Manager

Ali Wood, Humanitarian Specialist

Alicia Silverstein, Regional Program Officer, Great Lakes

Alina Potts, Gender-based violence prevention & response

Aliya Abidi , Project Manager 

Alyssa Shumaker, Safety & Security Coordinator

Amelia Reese Masterson, Consultant, GBV/SRH

Amin Mohammad, Operations Coordinator

Amy Neinan , Women’s protection and empowerment coordinator 

Amy Sheppey, Media & Communications / Gender Security

Anastasia Moran, Officer, International Programs Policy and Advocacy

Angellah Gwaro, Programs officer

Anna, Grants Officer for Violence Prevention & Response

Anna Saffer, Regional Program Officer for Asia

Anna Thorne, Programme Officer, Humanitarian Capacity Building team (SCUK)

Anneleen Vos, Policy Officer

Anny Modi, Women's empowerment and community integration

Anon, Director 

Anon, Senior Clinical Manager

Anon, Roving CWI Senior Officer

Anon, EH manager

Anon, Nurse

Asad Jalal, Technical Controller- Asia

Asha Abshir Ali , Women Protection and Empowerment Senior Officer

Asha Nelima, Reproductive Health Nurse

Asiya, WPE Senior Officer 

Astrid Sletten, Global Roving Country Director

Attau Ur Rahman, M&E Assistant In IRC-PRP

Aurelie Leroyer, GBV Technical Advisor

Aziz Ali, Managing more than 500 workers 

Bahadur Khoso, M&E Assistant

Bahiyyeh Syed, Executive Officer 

Basharat Hussain , Reading Quality Associate 

Bashir Ahmad Mehraban, Support the human in need 

Belay, Senior Program Manager

Bénédicte Haudebert, Grants Manager 

Benjamin Hill, Education in Emergencies

Betelhem Mengistu, Community Well-being Initiative Coordinator

Bianca Wachtel, Communcations

Brittany Lambert, Humanitarian policy expert

Bruk Kindeya, WASH officer 

Carine, Senior Policy Advisor

Carly Vogel, Program Assistant

Caroline Lai, Deputy Director of Programs

Cassandra, Senior Grants and Partnership Coordinator

Catherine Harrington, Campaign Manager - Nationality Rights 

Chine McDonald, Communications

Chloé Cébron, Advocacy Advisor

Christina Calbos , Project Manager 

Christopher B. Estallo, Programs Coordinator

Cidra Iqbal, Program Officer 

Claire Eldred, Health Program Management

Claire Hancock, Global Livelihoods Specialist

Clara Ituero Herrero, Gender Advisor

Cokie van der Velde, Water and Sanitation Specialist

Consolate Apio, Women's Protection and Empowerment: Listen Up! Project Officer

Dahir Shire, Field Coordinator

Dale Buscher, Vice President, Programs

Dania Gharaibeh, Deputy Director of Gender Equality at IRC

Daniel Gebreselassie, HR/Admin Manager

Danny Glenwright, Executive Director of Action Against Hunger Canada

Daphne Jayasinghe, Policy Adviser, Economic Programmes

Dashakti Reddy, GBV Specialist

Daud, Child protection officer 

Debbie Nolan, Learning and Training Adviser

Deka Dimbil, Emergency response coordinator

Diana Quick, Communications

Domenico, Deployable Child Protection in Emergencies Advisor

Dominique Cardinal, Humanitarian Programs Officer

Dr Toby Leslie, Epidemiologist

Dr. Mujahid Azam, Policy and System Coordinator 

Eftychia Georgiadi, Child Protection Manager

Elena, Project Officer

Elena Bezzolato, Programme Coordinator, SGBV in humanitarian

Eliana, Protection and gender expert 

Elinor Raikes, Head of Program Delivery

Elisa David, Refugee Resettlement

Elizabeth Nyariek Kuong, GBV response officer

Emmy Moorhouse, Gender Equality Advisor, East Africa

Erica Pilcher, Emergency Accountability Coordinator

Esther Karnley, Women's Protection and Empowerment Coordinator

Esther Opoka, Field Coordinator

Eva Gashi, GBV Case Manager

Fahima Abdi, Senior Grants and Partnerships Officer 

Fairouz Hassan, Gender & Protection Advisor

Farah Malaeb, WPE Life skills assistant 

Farhat Khattak, Assessment Manager 

Fatima, HR Admin Assistant 

Fawad Ahmed, Assessment Manager/M&E Coordinator 

Felipe Rojas Lopez, SRH Technical Advisor for a medical INGO

felisters nekesa, Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Officer

Fiona Gall, Director of NGO Platform in Afghanistan (ACBAR)

Francis Ns. Sala-Diakanda, Country Director 

Frehiwot, GBV Response Officer 

Furqan Khan , Senior Manager Supply Chain 

Gabrielle Szabo, Snr Gender Equality Adviser

Gatwiech Nywon, CP IMS/M&E Officer

Gebreanania Mehari, Senior Environmental Health Manager

Genevieve Chicoine, Regional Monitoring and Action Coordinator

Ginette Mballa, Director, Finance

Gregory Matthews, Deputy Regional Director

Gretchen, GBV Psychosocial Support Specialist

Gunther Pratz, Deputy Director Emergency Preparedness

Habib Rehman, Supply Chain Assistant 

Hammad Hussain, Graphic Designer

Hannah Gibbin, Country Director

Hannah Tyler, Business Development Manager

Harriet Awuor, Women's Protection and Empowerment Manager

Harriet Kezaabu, WPE Coordinator

Hasen Muse, Senior GBV officer

Heidi Rosbe, Project Officer, Ahlan Simsim

Helea, Emergencies Unit Coordinator

Helena Lupton, Senior Advisor Strategic Partnerships

Helena Minchew, Advocate for women & girls

Hodan Nour , Senior GBV program manager 

Huma, Reporting Officer

Huzan Waqar, Team Lead

Ikran, Human resource and administration Officer

Ilaria Michelis, Technical Advisor

Imogen Sudbery, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Europe

Ingrid Bigirimana, Women Protection Empowerment Coordinator

Irfan Majeed Butt, National Assessment Coordinator

Irum Fatima , Active role in various networks and alliances 

Ismail, Finance officer managing and controlling humanitarian fund  

Ivi Psalti, Administration Support

Jacqueline Paul, Senior Gender Adviser

Jamil Ahmed, Technical Coordinator

Jamila Lecky, Human Resources Advisor

Janet Mugo, Adolescent Research Manager

Janette Garber, WGPE Coordinator

Jean Casey, Project coordinator, What Works To Prevent VAWG

Jean McLean, Communications 

Jennate Eoomkhan, Women's movement in emergencies. 

Joanne Creighton, Women's Protection & Empowerment Technical Advisor

joelle el khoury, Senior Women's Protection & Empowerment manager

Jonathan Schwartz, Chief Sales Officer 

Joseph Kiarie, A Paediatric Clinical Officer in a Refugee Camp.

Joy Masheti, WPE Coordinator

Juliet Were, Training women leaders.

Junaid Tahir, Survey and Study Coordinator

Kaltuma, Grants Officer

Karima Ghafury, HR/Admin Officer

Karimullah Dawary, HR Assistant

Kate Crichton, BD Manager

Kate Moger, Regional Vice President 

Katherine Gambir, Research Advisor

Kelly Joseph, Consultant and Working with Women and Girls in Emeregncies

Ken Bluestone, Head of Policy & Influencing

Khadija, Monitoring and Evaluation 

Khadim Hussain, M&E Coordinator

Khalid Usman, Policy and System Officer

Kimja Vanderheyden, Advocacy advisor at INGO Forum

Kristine, Protection Coordinator 

Kristy Crabtree, Information Management and Technology Advisor

Kyaw Zaw Myat , Senior Clinical Manager 

Lamis Delbani, Women Protection and Empowerment

Leah Akai Loiyanai, HR Officer and GE Champion 

Leila Younes, Regional Gender Equality Advisor 

Lia Mocka , Gender-Based Violence Specialist 

Liliane Munezero, Emergency Response Team WPE Coordinator

Lina Abu Awad , Grants Manager 

Lina Srivastava, Founder, CIEL | Creative Impact and Experience Lab

Liya Wondimu, Community wellbeing initiative Psychologist

Longa Louis Sylvester, Women Protection and Empowerment Manager

Lorentza Ruud, Grants Manager

Loseb Bagashvili, Regional Emergency Coordinator - Asia

Lucille Terré, Program Manager

Lucy Juneau , Campaign & Outreach Officer

Lucy Keating, Communications

Lydia Ciesluk, Digital Communications Officer

M. Dawood, M&E Officer

Madlin Sadler, Chief Operating Officer

Maham Sajjad, Program Officer

Mahmuda Begum , Women's Protection & Empowerment  Manager 

Mahrukh Rauf, Stakeholder Engagement Manager

Mahwish Omer, Senior Manager Post Award

Marcy Hersh, Senior Manager, Humanitarian Advocacy

Maria Anna V., Social worker

Maria Fix, Nurse and medical coordinator 

Maria Holtsberg, Gender and Inclusion Advisor

Marian Hassan Mohamud, Deputy Health & Nutrition Coordinator

Marie-Charlotte Garin, Gender and Disability Project Officer 

Marta Royo, Executive Director

Martha Roussou, Senior Advocacy Officer

Martha Sambiro Mwachia, Clinical Officer

Maryam Mohsin, Media Manager

Medina  Shariff Abdullahi, ERD-Women Economic Empowerment Officer

Melanie Ward , Deputy Director of Programs

Melinda Frimpong, Digital Advocacy Content Officer

Melissa Pearce, Information Officer

Mendy Marsh, Executive Director, Co-Founder, VOICE

Mersha Fikre Estifanos, Senior Consortia Coordinator (RDPP and SINCE)

Michael Arnaud, Associate Director Gender and GBV

Michal Blaszczyk, Communications Manager

Michelle Kim , Project Officer 

Michelle Wong, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer

Miheret Betseha, Women Protection and Empowerment Unit Officer

Mina Jaf , work with refugee women 

Miranda Hurst, Senior Policy Advisor

Mireille Flores Avila, Humanitarian Programmes Manager

Mohamed Shafi Jama, Community Health Supervisor

Mohammad Aslam Khan, Operations Management, Administration, HR, Logistics, Procurement, Security

Mohammad Nasir Rizaee, Education Coordinator 

Mohammad Sami Alsamman , Emergency Surge Recruiter

Morganne King Wale, War Child Canada

Muhammad Asad Sardar, Supply Chain Coordinator

Muhammad Haroon Altaf, Director HR

Muhammad Naeem Sargana, Policy and Systems Coordinator

Mukhtar Sirat Mahdi, Nutrition Manager

Mukhtar Yalahow, Finance Manager

Muktar Yusuf , Senior IT officer 

Musca Philipps, Sexual and reproductive health expert

Naeem Sohail Butt, Chief of Party, Pakistan Reading Project

Naol Abera, CBP/SGBV Intern 

Naomi Tulay Solanke , Executive Director 

Nasir Khan Yousaf Zai, Senior Coordinator MEAL

Nassima Sahraoui , Assistant coordinator

Naw Hsa Kweh Hmoo, Project officer

Nefeli Bami, Senior Protection Officer

Nicole Behnam, Senior Technical Director for Protection

Nicole Walden, Deputy Regional Director, East Africa

Nicoleta Petalidou, Protection Manager

Noelle M Rancourt, Independent Consultant

Noor Ul Amin, Reporting and Liaison Manager

Noorullah Hassan, Emergency WASH Manager

Norman Gustavson, PhD, Psychosocial Services

Nur Hassan Ahmed , Protection and Rule of Law Officer 

Nuzhat Amin, Program Manager Education

Ochola Alice Jean Mangwi, GBV Sub-cluster Co-Coordinator

Oenone Chadburn, Head of Humanitarian Support

Panagiota Stravogianni, Social Worker

parwana sharifi, Provincial Protection Officer

Patricia Gray, WPE Technical Advisor

Patricia McIlreavy, Vice President, Humanitarian Team

Patrick Durrant , Emergency Response Manager 

Patrick Ikileng, Health worker

Paula Tenaglia, Director of Operations

Peters Lony , Research officer 

Phoebe Kung'u, Regional Supply Chain Director

Polyxeni Fotaki, Nurse

Polyxeni Lappa, Psychologist

Pramaningtyas Sarce Margareth, Executive Director

Quresha, Human Resource Coordinator 

Rachel C Unkovic, NGO Coordination Advisor

Rachel Nyanquoi Jackson, Senior Field Manager

Rachel Swift, Humanitarian Specialist

Rafael A. Velasquez Garcia, Head of Disaster Risk Management 

Rahel Tsegay, GBV Response Officer

Rebecca Gang Leslie, Senior Technical Advisor, Protection and Rule of Law

Regina Itwara , Nurse - Hospital Matron 

Rissi Assani-Alabi, Language & Development Consultant

Romal Qadir, M&E Officer

Ruby Ajanee, Promote gender equality and gender inclusion

Ruth, Project Manager

Ruth Price, Advocacy Officer

Saba’ zyoud, Case manager 

Sadia, Women's Protection and Empowerment officer

Safi Ahmad Aryan, Warehouse and Inventory Officer

Salome Ntububa, Regional Emergency Manager 

Samah Mannai, Women Protection & Empowerment Senior Response Officer

Sana Zulfiqar, National Humanitarian Coordinator 

Sandra K. Krause, Senior Director, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Sandrine Simon, Health and advocacy director

Sanna Johnson, Regional vice president

Sarah Cornish-Spencer, Women's Protection and Empowerment Senior Technical Adviser

Sarah Martin, GBV Prevention and Response Consultant

sarah neusy, Sexual & Reproductive Health Technical Advisor

Sawsan Sweidan , Senior response officer 

Senait Fisseha , Gender Program Manager 

Shah Agha Seroush , Technical Supply Chain Officer 

Shehzad Ahmed, M&E Assistant

Silvia Andena, Deputy Director Programs

Simret Gebretensaie, CWI response officer

Sinéad Murray, GBV Consultant 

Sireen Abu Asbeh , Grants Manager 

Soliyana Habtemichael, Protection Associate 

Sophia, Technical advisor

Sophia, Women Protection & Empowerment Senior Manager ,Bangladesh

Stacey Sawchuk, Humanitarian Program Manager

Stefania Chirizzi, WPE Coordinator

Sultan Nasari, Economic Wellbeing Programme Coordinator

Sumbal Iqbal, Reporting Officer

Suree Nohpo, Senior Livelihood Manager

Susan D., Consultant

Susanne White, Social and Digital Marketing Officer

Tanit Iglesias Zayas, Health Advisor 

Toorpikai sana, Child Protection Officer

Urmila Shrestha, Executive Director 

Vannina Kaneza, Grants and Partnerships Officer

Vannina Kaneza, Grants and partnerships Officer

Veronique Ossohou-Kone, GBV Technical Advisor 

Vicki Aken, Country Director

Viktoria Lovrics, Project Officer - GBV and Nutrition 

Wahdatullah Adil, Senior Project Supervisor 

Wendy Barron, Country Director

William Ekai, Medic

Yodit Dejene , Adolescents Girls Program Officer 

Yohanna Philip, Programs Coordinator 

Yolande Longang Tchounkeu, WPE coordinator

Yves Nommay, Director International Safety and Security

zahra, Senior Manager : Women's Protection & Empowerment

Zain ul Abedin, Deputy Director Programs

Zainab Sulaiman , Project Consultant 

Zoe Fregoli, Fundraising Manager 

Zuhra, Project officer, M&E for nutrition and Gender Equality 

Zuhra Wardak, Compliance Coordinator

Zuhra Wardak, Compliance Coordinator

Καλλιοπη Μπακαλη, Social scientist 

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.