Today is the 20th year that we remember the suicide bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 humanitarian aid workers. In the two decades that have passed, the humanitarian landscape continues to be marked by many challenges, from increasing numbers of people in need of humanitarian assistance to growing incidents of climate disasters and violent conflicts, escalating food insecurity, a widening gap between needs and available resources, and increased attacks on humanitarians around the globe.
Every day, in these dangerous surroundings, humanitarian workers unfailingly deliver lifesaving services. More than 40 per cent of these workers are women, who play a vital role in the survival and resilience of families and communities, while overcoming increasing multiple restrictions and risks in their efforts to serve those in need.
Considerable barriers remain for women in accessing humanitarian aid, from conflict-related sexual violence to limitations on mobility. UN Women’s membership in October 2022 of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on humanitarian coordination is an opportunity to address these barriers, ensure that women’s voices bring fresh perspectives, analysis, and data to the response plans, and centre gender equality in effective humanitarian action.
We continue to increase our presence in crisis settings globally, ensuring that the needs are met of the women and girls who are hardest to reach, and who have so often been the first responders. In 2022, UN Women contributed to humanitarian and refugee coordination mechanisms in more than 40 country and regional contexts: in Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia.
For example, in Türkiye, together with civil society partners, we are addressing the urgent and longer-term needs of women and girls impacted by the earthquakes. In Sudan we are supporting the network Peace for Sudan, a platform of 49 women-led peace initiatives, humanitarian initiatives, and civil society organizations that are leading the humanitarian response and campaigning for an end to the conflict. Through the Central Emergency Response Fund Block Grant, UN Women and its partners have reached survivors of gender-based violence and at-risk women and girls through protection services and livelihood opportunities such as skills development and vocational training. In 2022, with grants from the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, for which UN Women serves as the Global Secretariat, 1,177 women’s rights organizations implemented interventions for the protection of the rights of women and girls and to end sexual and gender-based violence, in 11 countries.
This year, in solidarity, we reaffirm our commitment to the values and principles of humanitarian action. Those engaged in the humanitarian response must be able to work with impartiality to reach communities from all walks of life, no matter their nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class, political opinion, or location. Every day, but especially today, we express our gratitude for all humanitarian actors past and present who, without prejudice, have served and continue to serve our diverse communities, no matter who, no matter where, and #NoMatterWhat.