She Matters: A tribute to aid workers

Nadia Kramarenko:

‘…To see, hear and experience the human story behind disasters and conflicts. Some things in life make you want to hug your loved ones just a little bit longer and tighter. For me, experiencing the journey of a refugee was one of them.’ – Christina Moreno, our founder & CEO, 1 November 2017.

This was the beginning of our journey. 11 August 2018 marked the first year anniversary of She Matters.

Whether personally or as a team, we pause to look back and plan forward. We cannot but think of the values that brought us here – and those who make our world a better and SAFER place.

On 19 August, we pay tribute to the humanitarians who deliver aid to vulnerable communities in some of the most dangerous crises on the planet. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Overall last year, 139 aid workers were killed, 102 wounded and 72 kidnapped in the line of duty. Regrettably, it’s also the highest recorded annual death toll since 2013.

These are just some of the figures shaping She Matters’ efforts. Today’s humanitarian emergencies are multidimensional. It’s women who essentially bridge gaps between the dimensions.

Naturally, when disaster strikes or conflict erupts, women and girls are hardest hit. But too often, the world sees them just as victims – and as passive recipients of humanitarian assistance. Here, bringing women’s roles under the spotlight is part of our mission.

Women effectuate the change in many lives and in many ways. In conflict/post-conflict situations and emergencies, they are active participants. Women simply are ‘messengers of humanity.’ As mothers, they instill values across generations shaping their identities.

Female participation is the secret to ensuring lasting peace. Still, there’s a long way to go to achieve an actual transformation. Sadly, in 2018, there were only 560 women compared to 15,346 men among military peacekeepers in the UN’s biggest mission, MONUSCO, in DR Congo. Obviously, greater gender balance is needed. It also includes engaging women with a refugee and/or forced migration background. Their experience cannot be overestimated. They have seen current realities from many different perspectives. Women make up marginally less than half of all refugees. In South Sudan, however, it has tended to be women and children who flee.

Yet, research released by Centre for Humanitarian Leadership and Humanitarian Advisory Group suggests that the challenges facing women aspiring to leadership in the humanitarian sector are as pervasive as in other sectors.

Luckily, a shift is underway. For instance, a CARE report identifies four key themes:

  • Shift from women as victims to women as first responders
  • Shift from tick-box gender accountability to a comprehensive approach
  • Women and accountability to affected populations
  • Local women’s groups and the ‘Grand Bargain’

It’s often said that the world is experiencing the ‘new normal.’ But it shouldn’t be about emergencies and gender-related gaps. These realities shouldn’t be perceived as ‘normal.’ Let’s take them as a call to action, just like those on the frontlines do. Reflecting on the past, let’s forge the future. Shall we?

‘…Today I had the opportunity to experience a simulated journey of a refugee. I pictured myself in their shoes wondering how I would cope. Yet some things in life you just can’t imagine. So as I sit here tonight, still fresh from the experience, I’m left feeling so grateful for all that I have. But most importantly, I’m grateful I can go to sleep tonight knowing that my family and friends are all safe.’ – Christina Moreno. May those who guard our dreams say so too… #SheMatters

Reproduced with permission from She Matters; our contributing partner.

About the writer:

Photo credit: Kate Sklianchenko

Nadia is a translator/interpreter and editor with above 10-year experience in professional services, financial, banking, legal, and media sectors. She has been part of international and domestic organisations and projects.

Nadia has been providing translation/interpretation and language services to Global Rights Compliance (GRC) on its ICC and IHL project in Ukraine, the Stanford University on its research project looking into conflict-related perception specifics in Ukraine, Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC) and its partners, as well as the Presidential Administration to support the English version of the Official website of the President of Ukraine.

Her most recent media projects include DW Conflict Zone, BBC World News HARDtalk, Talking Europe France24, EURACTIV, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for the Office of Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.

Nadia is working on various business, financial, legal, humanitarian, conflict-related, as well as media and PR projects.

Earlier, she worked with Deloitte, Astra Bank (Ukraine/Greece), set up and led Translation/Interpretation and Editing Group with VTB Bank (Ukraine), and provided language services to VTB Capital (UK).

Nadia holds a Masters Degree (Hons.) in translation/interpretation, teaching, and philology from the National Aviation University (NAU) (Kyiv).

She has above 40 publications on language learning, translation/interpretation, linguistics, and international business customs and practices.

Nadia’s commitment to helping people to understand each other better and ensuring effective communication in complex and controversial environments brought her to She Matters. Here, Nadia got a chance to translate this commitment into helping refugee and migrant women and girls to overcome adversity and challenges they face.

About She Matters:

She Matters empowers refugee and migrant women to build their social and economic capital, boost their self-confidence as well as become leaders in their homes, businesses, and communities.

She Matters envisions a world where all refugee and migrant women:

  • are empowered to fully participate in economic life across all sectors;
  • have equal access to education and political participation;
  • are free from violence;
  • have the support and services they need to thrive in daily life;
  • inform and drive their own solutions and development.


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