Alone in the middle of violence, poverty, and health crises, women can feel forgotten. We come together as a global support network to remind each woman that we see her and support her as she goes on a journey to transform her life.
And on World Humanitarian Day, we honor the frontline members of our global community, who walk alongside women on this journey.
Audry Shematsi, Country Director at Women for Women International – DRC
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is no stranger to infectious disease, and neither is Audry, who has years of directly serving Ebola-affected communities. Today, she uses her expertise to equip the communities we serve to deal with several diseases, including COVID-19 and Ebola, along with other issues that plague women, such as gender-based violence.
Audry’s humanitarian roots run deep: 15 years ago, she stood in the Women for Women International classrooms as a trainer herself. Having seen the impact of investing in women first-hand, she returned to the organization, this time to head her country’s program. Because her leadership is a testament to the power of Congolese women, and the change that happens when women share their power.
At times, her work comes at a cost. For stretches of time during stricter COVID-19 measures, Audry’s leadership and service to women meant she was unable to see her son, living in another state. But her commitment to women in their time of need is what makes her an incredible role model for her son and all of us.
Women Now for Development
The resurgence of violence in Syria forced even more women and girls into danger. Displaced, many have lost their homes, stability, safety, and loved ones. Violence has decimated infrastructure, leaving women and girls without access to health resources and hospitals in the middle of a pandemic.
The team of Women Now for Development works directly with displaced women living in camps—some of their team displaced by conflict themselves. Founded, led, and staffed by Syrian women, Women Now is expanding Syrian women’s power to rebuild their communities by investing in their safety, economic opportunities, and social and political participation.
As a partner in the Conflict Response Fund, Women Now’s team in Idlib, Syria is creating opportunities for women and girls to continue or further their learning. After assessing the market, the team will train women in vocational skills and to become entrepreneurs. For women and girls whose education was interrupted, they can gain the literacy and technology to unlock doors and equip them to decide their own futures.
Moses Abure, Program Coordinator at Women for Women International – South Sudan
Last year on World Humanitarian Day, we celebrated the return of Women for Women International to South Sudan. Violent conflict threatened staff and women, many of whom fled to Uganda as refugees.
But as many women return to rebuild their lives in South Sudan, so did staff members like Moses, to continue the program and his support for women. Although ceasefires have put a formal end to conflict, violence persists. Trauma and stress follow people home, and women face domestic violence.
Since the program restarted, Moses and his teammates have reimplemented the full training program in a difficult situation, innovated to amplify their impact via local radio stations, and addressed gender-based violence. They’ve created safe spaces for women to share their experiences and break the isolation of rape or abusive marriages.
During COVID-19 training suspension, Moses and his colleagues have continued educating the community on disease through radio programs, distributing soap and cash assistance, and even supporting people with disabilities.