According to the United Nations, there are more than 570,000 helpers worldwide working for people in need. Every year on 19 August, the United Nations celebrates the World Humanitarian Day for them. To pay tribute to the special importance of women as workers in crises and disasters, the #WomenHumanitarians campaign was launched this year.
"Women and children are often the most affected in crises and disasters. Especially in countries where religious restrictions or unequal treatment exist, help from women for women is immensely important. This quickly builds trust," says Susanne Wesemann, Director of Johanniter International Assistance. Manuela Roßbach, Managing Director of relief coalition "Aktion Deutschland Hilft", emphasises that the support of female humanitarian aid workers is overdue. "They can become role models for young girls and give other women in need a voice. Humanitarian aid can only develop its full potential if measures take into account the needs of all population groups," continued Roßbach.
Juan Joice is an example of this. She works as a nurse with Johanniter in South Sudan. The wish to beome a nurse arose when she was a young girl and had to flee to Uganda, she says. There she experienced how a nurse treated her mother with care. She completed her education in her home country in 2015, and the 27-year-old woman works now for internally displaced persons in the city of Wau. "I like to help them. As a mother, I treat the children here like my own and transmit to the women important hygiene rules", says Juan Joice. She has opted for it, although the global conditions for women are rarely ideal. In humanitarian crises and catastrophes, hygiene conditions are often poor. Not only the sick and injured suffer as a result, but also women who work to help them.
The World Humanitarian Day dates back to 19 August 2003. At the time, 22 humanitarian workers died in a deadly bomb attack on UN headquarters. Since 2009, the United Nations has also been celebrating this day to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives working for people in need. According to the latest Aid Worker Security Report, 2018 was the second most dangerous year for humanitarian aid workers since the start of the survey in 1997. 399 aid workers were victims of violence last year. There were 156 attacks this year as well. The most dangerous countries for humanitarian aid workers are Syria, the DR Congo and South Sudan.
Zeinab Osman is a midwife since 30 years and mother of six children. After Johanniter had built a maternity ward in the village of Kangi and opened it in February 2018, she started working there and supports pregnant women and young mothers. According to her, people were not aware of delivering in maternity. "In remote areas, women are still delivering at home, but when there is a complication, it can be a very big issue for the mother and for the child", Zeinab says. She is now helping to reduce the high maternal mortality rate in the region.
Ichor Kuya already wanted to become a nurse as a little girl in order to help people. Against the initial resistance of her parents, she completed a vocational training and initially worked as a volunteer for the Kenyan Red Cross. Afterwards, she took her first job with AICHM, the Johanniter's partner organisation, as a nurse in Nakoyo in the northwest of Kenya. "Girls always have to obey, that's the problem," says Ichor looking back. "Instead, they should push their heads through. Parents need to understand that girls can reach much more than just be at home and raise children." She did: Ichor is responsible for the treatment of patients in the health station, she has consultation hours, she examines children and adults. She also gives injections, performs rapid tests, e.g. for malaria, and coordinates and trains community health workers, who, in addition to local residents, also assist many refugees from nearby camps.