Does Humanitarian Aid Need a Feminist Facelift?
A Women Deliver Side Event at the Commission on the Status of Women
Humanitarian emergencies are decisive moments for gender equality. On one hand, girls and women affected by conflicts and natural disasters face new and increased risks to their health and rights, such as gender-based violence and disruptions in essential sexual and reproductive health services. Yet moments of crisis can also create new opportunities for girls’ and women’s leadership in families and communities – which, when supported and sustained, can drive longer-term gains in gender equality and power progress for all.
By bringing together humanitarian leaders at the global, national, and community levels, this event will share guidance, best practices, and solutions for creating a humanitarian system that places girls and women at the center.
Tune in LIVE on Facebook on Wednesday, March 13 at 9:00 AM ET to watch the conversation!
SPEAKER BIOS (in order of appearance)
H.R.H. Princess Sarah Zeid is an advocate for women’s, newborn, child and adolescent health and wellbeing in humanitarian and fragile settings. As UNHCR Patron for Maternal & Newborn Health, Special Advisor to WFP on Maternal & Child Health and Nutrition, and a co-convener of the Newborn Health in Humanitarian Settings Initiative, Princess Sarah supports efforts to reduce maternal, child and newborn mortality and morbidity in populations affected by violence and conflict, and champions the health, wellbeing, empowerment and contribution of girls and women in fragile and humanitarian settings. She is supported by and partners with the Women Deliver Humanitarian Advocacy Initiative. Princess Sarah led Every Woman Every Child Everywhere (Everywhere), an unprecedented global multi-stakeholder movement to integrate humanitarian and fragile settings in the renewed Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, a roadmap adopted by the World Health Assembly to end all preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents by 2030. Princess Sarah is a member of the Advisory Board for the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch; a member of UNHCR’s Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection; a member of the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health Advisory Committee: and, the Towards Global Learning Goals Advisory Board. She holds a BA in International Relations from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and an MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Katja Iversen is the President/CEO of Women Deliver – a leading global advocate for investment in gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women, with a specific focus on maternal, sexual and reproductive health and rights. Iversen, an internationally recognized expert on development, advocacy and communications, has more than 25 years of experience working in NGOs, corporates and United Nation agencies. Previously, she held the position as Chief of Strategic Communication and Public Advocacy with UNICEF, a position she came to after almost six years of leading the team responsible for advocacy and communication on reproductive health with UNFPA. She holds a master’s degree in communications, bachelor’s degree in public administration and certificates in management, conflict resolution, and international development. Iversen has worked in global development for more than 20 years and has an extensive network within the UN, development communities, and global media. She has counseled and trained multiple Fortune 500 executives on cross cultural management and cross cultural communication. She is a member of Prime Minster Trudeau’s G7 Gender Equality Council, the Unilever Sustainability Advisory Council, the MIT Women & Technology Solve Leadership Group, and an International Gender Champion. Iversen was recently named in the top 10 of Apolitical’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy. She is also a sought lecturer and speaker.
DR. OLFAT MAHMOUD
Director and Founder, Palestinian Women's Humanitarian Organization
Women Deliver Humanitarian Advocate
Dr. Olfat Mahmoud is the founder and director of the Palestinian Women’s Humanitarian Organisation (PWHO). A nurse by training and a Palestinian refugee herself, Dr. Olfat established the grassroots organization to support women and their families, both Palestinian and now Syrian, living in refugee camps in Lebanon. Rooted in human rights principles, PWHO believes that women are not victims but are survivors and when provided with the opportunity to health, education and empowerment, they can affect change for themselves and other women. Dr. Mahmoud is also an author, having published Tears for Tarshiha in 2018, and works tirelessly as an activist for Palestinian and women's rights.
Dr. Lina Abirafeh is the Executive Director of the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University – based in New York and Lebanon. Her background is in gender-based violence prevention and response in development and humanitarian contexts. She brings over 20 years’ experience in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, and others. Her 2015 TEDx talk summarizes her experience. Lina completed her doctoral work from the London School of Economics and published “Gender and International Aid in Afghanistan: The Politics and Effects of Intervention” based on her research. She speaks and publishes frequently on a range of gender issues. In 2018, Lina was listed as one of the Gender Equality Top 100: The Most Influential People in Global Policy - one of only two Arabs to make the list.
Juliet Whitley has led on DFID’s SRHR in crises portfolio since 2017, and chairs the global SRHR in Crises Donor Group. Juliet has worked in a range of conflict and humanitarian roles in UK government, including the Sierra Leone Ebola response, DFID’s humanitarian programme in Iraq, and the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative. Juliet was also Private Secretary to the UK’s Ministerial Champion for tackling Violence Against Women and Girls overseas, Baroness Verma. Prior to joining DFID in 2012, she worked in a range of NGOs in the UK and overseas, including the National AIDS Trust, VSO and BBC Media Action.
Diana Abou Abbas is the Executive Director of Marsa - Sexual Health Center - in Beirut, Lebanon. She has grown as a person and as a professional along with Marsa since 2011. Diana is a people aficionado. She is an activist for sexual and reproductive rights, LGBTIQ, and women's rights. She strives for respect in a country where a basic right has become a challenge. Diana graduated from the Lebanese American University with a degree in Communication Arts, and has invested her passion for media and communication in Marsa's promotional videos and awareness campaigns.
Dr. Nicole Behnam is currently the Senior Technical Director for the Violence Prevention and Response Unit (VPRU) at the International Rescue Committee. The VPRU supports child protection, legal protection of refugees, and protection of women and girls and other vulnerable groups in conflict and crisis settings. Dr. Behnam has also served as the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Senior Advisor at the PEPFAR Office of the Global HIV/AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) at the US Department of State. Previous to this position, she was a senior technical advisor for child protection for World Vision and before that she was a technical advisor for the International Rescue Committee, and a child protection specialist at World Relief. Her work has focused on programs responding to violence against women, children and their families, and she has worked and lived in places as varied as Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Mozambique and Jordan, and supported programs from Darfur to Afghanistan to South Sudan. Nicole has a MA degree in German Literature from Harvard, a MA in international development and economics from Johns Hopkins, and a PhD in education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Hayat Mirshad is a Lebanese feminist activist, journalist, trainer, and communications and advocacy expert. Hayat has been an advocate for women's and girls’ rights since 2007. She has coordinated and led various projects and campaigns about gender equality and women’s rights in Lebanon. She is a co-founder and co-director of FE-MALE, a non-profit feminist collective. Hayat is Head of Communications and Campaigning at the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering (RDFL), a women’s rights organization that has been established for more than 40 years and works for gender equality in Lebanon. Hayat began working as a journalist in 2006. She has worked and contributed as a writer, reporter, content producer, and guest producer for a number of media outlets including Aljadeed TV, OTV, Al-Akhbar newspaper, Annahar newspaper and Al Nidaa magazine. In May 2012, Hayat initiated and was the anchor and producer of the first feminist radio program in Lebanon. Hayat has been a gender, communications, and campaigning trainer since 2009. She managed and conducted more than 50 trainings targeting more than 1,200 people with various reputable organizations including the BBC Media Action, Internews, UNFPA, Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), Euromed Feminist Initative, and the YWCA. Hayat has spoken at a number of national, regional, and international platforms, conferences and events about women’s rights and media, and was chosen as a member of a number of board and consultative committees for different national and international organizations including UN Women and Action Aid.
Dan Seymour is currently UN Women’s Director of Humanitarian Action and Crisis Response. He previously served as Deputy Director of Programmes and Deputy Chief of Staff/ Strategic Planning Advisor to the Executive Director. He began his career as Save the Children UK’s first Human Rights Officer. He has worked in government as an advisor on child rights to Robin Cook, the UK Foreign Secretary, with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Kosovo Mission as a human rights monitor and head of office, and as Save the Children Alliance Representative to the United Nations in New York. He joined the UN with UNICEF in 2002 working first in the Child Protection Section of Programme Division, then as Planning and Social Policy Officer in the Viet Nam Country Office, and finally as Chief of UNICEF’s Gender and Rights Unit. During that time he was elected chair of the OECD/ DAC’s Human Rights Task Team. In 2010 he went to UN Women to support its establishment. He is a graduate of Oxford University with degrees in Political Science and Economics and Human Rights Law and Theory. Dan is a UK national with two daughters.
Cecilia joined the Lebanon Family Planning Association for Development & Family Empowerment (LFPADE) in 1993 as a project coordinator. Since then, she has been leading on the organization’s many projects for girls and women throughout Lebanon. Now Program Director, Cecilia is responsible for the organization’s sexual and reproductive health programs, working to increase access, awareness and knowledge and improve practices to reach the most vulnerable, including youth and refugees. Cecilia has been a longtime advocate for women’s empowerment and development. She received her MA in Food Science from the American University of Beirut and is fluent in Arabic and English.
Ahmed is a 20-year-old writer, social entrepreneur, poet, and former Iraqi refugee working at the intersection of creativity, displacement, and youth empowerment. On July 25th, 2006, Ahmed's home in Baghdad was bombed by militia troops. He and his family relocated to Syria as refugees for two and a half years before receiving approval to move to the United States. Ahmed founded Narratio, a platform for youth empowerment through creative expression. Narratio publishes works of art from all over the globe, and hosts workshops centered around the power of storytelling and creativity. In the last three years, Ahmed’s storytelling initiatives have reached over 20 million people across the world. Together with the Syrian artist and architect Mohamad Hafez, Ahmed co-founded UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, a multi-media installation that remodels the homes of refugees inside a series of suitcases in an effort to humanize and give voice to a demographic that is often viewed in the abstract. Ahmed is a Junior at Wesleyan University, where he is a Fellow at the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. Ahmed is currently working on his debut book which focuses on the creative expression of refugee youth across the world, to be published by Andrews McMeel in 2020. Having spoken at the United Nations on more than ten occasions before the age of 20, his work has been featured and supported by the World Bank, SAP, Harvard University, Yale University, OECD, BuzzFeed Tasty, TEDxTeen, Instagram, NPR, Global Citizen, and others. This past September, Ahmed was selected by the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, as one of 17 UN Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Humanitarian4Her