Natural disasters and conflicts, are not gender neutral. They impact to a far greater extent on the most vulnerable. And the most vulnerable in nearly all circumstances will be women and children. This is recognised in such processes as The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid which highlights the importance of integrating gender considerations, including protection strategies against sexual and gender based violence and promoting the active participation of women in the humanitarian assistance they receive. To achieve this however, to get engagement, trust and insights there needs to be more women working in aid. This need, coupled with the trend toward a reduced dependency on international agencies and building the ability of national organisations to respond, means encouraging women in vulnerable countries to take up a humanitarian career.
But how can this be done? Trained staff cannot be found overnight. And in many countries there may be a strong cultural bias against women doing aid work, or travelling to other countries to assist response. UK Aid funds the Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Programme, that covers a number of activities designed to reshape the world of humanitarian response. In this podcast leaders from two of the projects talk about how they are encouraging more women onto humanitarian training schemes in countries such as Jordan, the Philippines and Pakistan, and raising the numbers being deployed. Sometimes the obstacles to be overcome are not cultural. After all, why might a request for marriage leave be a reason for an aid organisation refuse training?