World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day is celebrated every year on August 19th. It’s a day of honouring humanitarians who risk their lives for people in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. The United Nations decided that humanitarians should have a day specifically just for them, where we celebrate their courage and bravery as they support their communities no matter the circumstances. The UN believes that it is important to inform the public about their humanitarian efforts which can often be dismissed, it’s also a day to promote helping vulnerable people in a crisis.

Photo- Lynsey Addario

This year’s World Humanitarian Day will be honouring all the women and their undeniable humanitarian efforts, which are vital to their communities for recovery. As women dominate the public health sector, they make it their duty to protect the sick, the elderly and children. These incredible women make up the largest number of people who risk their own lives to save others. Their unparalleled perseverance deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated as they present undeniable female strength. 

August 19th will be the day where we appreciate what they do and what they go through to protect their vulnerable community whilst often finding themselves in misogynistic societies. Their committed support towards their community is sometimes undermined because of gender roles within their society; and men’s views being taken into account over women’s, as they are respected more within certain societies. 

According to CARE International – a global organisation which works to help vulnerable communities fight poverty, and defend dignity – this is what inspired Rachel Chandiru, a gender focal person in South Sudan, to be a humanitarian. She was motivated to help young girls that were sexually and physically abused during the civil war. Her message to other women and girls who are interested in humanitarian work is that “we should continue to work and help the women and girls who are disadvantaged, to know their rights. The battle for our rights will take many years; but we need to be persistent, raise our voices jointly until we are heard. The fight for our rights still continues.”

Attia Alsommali, a Yemeni field officer with CARE, sees it as her duty to provide and help people regardless of their opinions on women. They have a role in society which they want to make better and gender stereotype is beyond that. These female humanitarians believe that it is important to make a difference in their communities as they continue to help them grow and develop, while also fighting these negative misconceptions.

Female aid workers from the ‘Nigeria Humanitarian Fund’ provide maternal care in Adamawa State, Nigeria. Photo: OCHA/NHF/AHI.

So, as World Humanitarian Day comes closer, we should celebrate these strong-headed women, as well as all humanitarians across the world, by showing that we see and support them for all the courageous work that they do. They have something to prove and to challenge so this should be highlighted with a day honouring them, as they continue to display how determined they are to support their communities.

-Faaiza

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