MONROVIA, Montserrado – In an effort to strengthen women’s rights organizations’ efforts to contribute to humanitarian responses, the International Rescue Committee and a local NGO called Community Healthcare Initiative have launched a new network.
The International Feminist Humanitarian Network was launched on Thursday, August 22 as a global network of women leaders committed to a humanitarian system that promotes a feminist agenda.
The ceremony brought together representatives of several women groups, such as the National Rural Women of Liberia, the Women in Peacebuilding Network, the Liberia Feminist Forum, the National Civil Society Council, and the National Union of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities.
Community Healthcare Initiative’s executive director, Naomi Tulay-Solanke, said the network would work to influence the government and other stakeholders to increase resources to women’s rights actors.
She said the network will also work with women to collectively build feminist leadership and share evidence-based learnings that would transform and acknowledge the roles of women in humanitarian space and response to promote humanitarian advocacy based on feminist principles.
“Our goal is to strengthen the agency and amplify the voices of all women most affected by and least supported in humanitarian emergencies,” she said.
“Our vision is to transform the humanitarian sector at all levels into a sector that is led by feminist principles that listens to, is accountable to, and is accessible to women and their organizations, in all of their diversity, and that challenges and doesn’t reinforce structural inequalities.”
Local organizations are expected to form at least 70 percent of the network’s membership.
“This is a reflection of our vision and ambition to transform power dynamics in the humanitarian system and our commitment to acknowledging and addressing unequal power structures within the network itself,” she said.
She thanked the International Rescue Committee for the support during the launch and its willingness to continuously partner with them. Tulay-Solanke also commended women organizations in the country for their support and expressed hope for continued partnership.
The International Rescue Committee’s country director, Faith Cooper, also commended the women of West Africa and Liberian women for establishing organizations that give women the space to perform humanitarian services.
Cooper said humanitarian response during a disaster is a moral responsibility of every individual, irrespective of their gender. She welcomed the establishment of international humanitarian organizations and wants citizens to embrace them.
“You see people out there in the rain trying to fight for a cause – if you are working in the disaster management sector, humanitarian management sector, and in the development sector, have you started to ask yourself as to what is your role?” she said.
“If you don’t know what that is, today, I hope you will leave this room trying to figure out what do you do, what is your responsibility, and how can you contribute to that.”
She pledged the support of her organization in promoting humanitarian response but wants the local organizations to increase their visibility to ensure their partnership with international organizations.
“If you are going to hold the international organizations’ feet to the fire, we are also going to hold your feet to the fire to do more. We have to shift to a new level; we have to shift our thinking,” she further noted.
She also called on organizations to take ownership of the feminist humanitarian organization by cooperating fully to achieve its goal and vision.
Featured photo by Sampson David