The 19 August is World Humanitarian Day – this year it honours Women Humanitarians
World Humanitarian Day (WHD) on 19 August, is an annual occasion to commemorate humanitarian workers who have been killed or attacked in the course of their work, and to honour those who continue to take risks every day to provide life-saving aid to those who need it. This year the contribution of women humanitarians throughout the world, their strength, power and perseverance, are being honoured.
In South Sudan there are just over 40 national women-led organizations, out of 214 national NGOs. That’s less than a fifth. But it is women – from national and international NGOs – that play a central role in the survival and resilience of families and communities. In South Sudan, they are active in every aspect of humanitarian response, from the delivery of emergency supplies to providing assistance for gender-based violence; and across every sector, from food and shelter to educational support.
There are many communities where women humanitarians can access people, and provide vital information, support and services, to women and girls who may otherwise be out of reach.
In South Sudan, women humanitarians face a variety of obstacles in doing their work because of their gender, from risks to their personal safety, to sexism, discrimination and sexual harassment. More needs to be done to address these issues.
There are many women humanitarians in South Sudan, and every single one of them is being honoured.
For this WHD, OCHA asked women humanitarians what being a humanitarian was like. Jesca Wude Murye is a Nutrition Officer working for UNICEF, based in Juba. She lives in Hai Cinema. She is a mother of four, including twins. Here is her answer:
“Being a humanitarian worker is not something that everyone can do. It takes a special type of person. People who have compassion, love, and are willing to sacrifice their time, and take time to give a smile to someone else. In my case giving a smile to a mother who has lost hope and whose child is malnourished and bringing that child back to life is my joy. I enjoy working as a humanitarian because it is life-saving and I can see the results of what I do.
“I love going to the field to interact with children and mothers. Putting a smile on the face of a child and mother. But security is the most challenging part - conducting humanitarian activities under a tense political environment coupled with the lack of access to the most vulnerable people due to poor road infrastructure.”