Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on World Humanitarian Day on 19 August:
The number of people who need humanitarian assistance has constantly risen in the past years and reached a tragic record figure of 141.7 million people in July 2019.
In view of growing humanitarian need, it is essential that women, too, play an even greater role in providing humanitarian assistance. However, there are still far fewer female than male humanitarian aid workers. On today’s World Humanitarian Day, I would therefore like to focus on female humanitarian aid workers in particular, that is, on all the women who constantly risk their lives and health in the service of humanitarian assistance in order to support people who are in need as a result of wars, epidemics or natural disasters. We also pay tribute to the women who lost their lives doing this important work. There is no doubt that female aid workers provide added value. For example, in many places women are more accepted, and have better access to sections of the affected population, especially to women and girls in need. In particular, male humanitarian workers can find it difficult to obtain access on gender-sensitive issues (such as HIV/AIDS awareness-raising and counselling, midwifery, sexual violence, etc.). But women also play a vital role in many other areas of international humanitarian assistance, and must therefore have equal opportunities as regards access to this field of work.
The German Government wants to work even more closely with its partner organisations in the future to ensure that women obtain more and better opportunities to work in humanitarian assistance. At the same time, we are doing our utmost to improve the protection of humanitarian aid workers. To this end, Germany and France launched the initiative for a Humanitarian Call for Action in the UN Security Council in April. We will continue working on this.
Humanitarian aid workers will only be able to provide their very important services to help people in need if international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles are respected.