Humanitarian Action through a Woman’s Lens

Women humanitarian leaders from developing countries bring a local perspective to the table.

Bridging the gaps between humanitarian, human rights and development work.

Action Aid discusses the forming of an “International Feminist Humanitarian Network”.

Louisiane Nazaire and her women-led team of first responders worked around the clock when Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti last October. The storm displaced tens of thousands in Haiti with a death toll of almost 900 people.

UN Women reports that women and girls face heightened risks due to displacement and the breakdown of normal protection structures and support in crisis settings.

Nazaire shared her experiences with the Women in Humanitarian Action event, hosted by the Canadian High Commission to the United Kingdom in partnership with Action Aid.

The international organization, working with over 15 million people in 45 countries for a world free from poverty and injustice, is actively working to improve women’s participation in humanitarian crises.

The Canadian High Commission previously collaborated with Action Aid as part of civil society consultations on the Feminist International Assistance Policy. One of their recommendations was to improve support for local women’s organizations in humanitarian crises. Based on this discussion, the Canadian High Commission helped to organize this dialogue on women in humanitarian emergencies, which highlighted new Action Aid research on women providing surge support.

Joined by Zahida Fizza Kabir, the Executive Director of the Sajida Foundation in Bangladesh, and other women humanitarian leaders from developing countries, Nazaire brought a local perspective to the table.

Nazaire, from the Gender Focal Point at Konbit peyizan Grandans (KPGA) in Haiti, spoke in London about how the status of women is gradually improving in her country. Her community-based, women-led organization tackles issues of economic development, violence against women, food security, and education.

Feminist Foreign Policy

“Canada is committed to gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and the promotion and protection of their human rights. Women, peace and security are part of Canada’s foreign policy priorities. The active participation and leadership by women in all aspects of society is critical both at home and abroad.”

- Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

Advancing gender equality is a key focus of Canada’s Foreign Policy. This includes the empowerment of women and girls, and the protection and advancement of their human rights.

At the Women in Humanitarian Action event, Deputy High Commissioner Alan Kessel highlighted Canada’s leadership on gender in both development and humanitarian assistance.

The High Commissioner shared the planned gender focus of the International Assistance Policy, Canada’s leadership at the World Humanitarian Summit; and humanitarian spending including Syria, Haiti, and food crises.

Local women’s organizations like Nazaire’s demonstrate how women-led NGOs are often best placed to assess the immediate needs of a community, and can offer a single entry point for international assistance. Their participation is needed to bridge the gaps between humanitarian, human rights and development work.

“Canada is committed to working with all partners—including those at the local level—to combine our strengths and maximize the impact we have on humanitarian crises. We are especially concerned with women and girls, who are often the most vulnerable in crises. That is why they are at the heart of Canada’s humanitarian response.”

- Marie-Claude Bibeau Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

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