Training a new generation of women humanitarians

Read about the new generation of women humanitarians in Bangladesh, in this guest post by the Talent Development Project for International Women’s day. 

Women and children are often disproportionately affected when a disaster strikes. Yet they are rarely consulted, let alone involved, in humanitarian response initiatives. The humanitarian sector workforce is traditionally male-dominated, and this is particularly the case in countries such as Bangladesh, where women are discouraged from humanitarian work by cultural norms and expectations and are vastly under-represented in humanitarian leadership positions.

What is this project? What does it do?

The Talent Development Project is a humanitarian capacity-building initiative which is part of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP). The aim of the project is to build the capacity and capability of 1,165 national aid workers in 5 countries that are frequently affected by natural disasters and emergencies.

What has this project achieved?

Talent Development aims to maximise female participation on all of its capacity building programmes. Its entry-level Humanitarian Trainee Scheme has succeeded in attracting and training a new generation of women humanitarians.

Globally, across the whole entry-level programme, 58 per cent of participants are female. Moreover, 63 per cent of Talent Development’s entry-level trainees in Bangladesh are women.

Flexible and family-friendly training, engaging partner organisations in the humanitarian sector (and in particular local NGOs) and a targeted recruitment strategy has enabled Talent Development to promote women in humanitarian capacity building.

Our research indicates that female trainees are already beginning to positively change the work practices in humanitarian organisations and how humanitarian responses are designed and managed, even though they are new to the sector.

‘‘When I was getting married I asked for two weeks leave from Save the Children. They granted it and recommended to my host organisation, Mukti Cox’s Bazar, that I should be granted leave. Previously my host organisation did not have a marriage policy, so this made them think about and review their general policy.’’ – Sharmin Akther Shilpi – placed as an entry-level trainee with Mukti Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, under Save the Children’s Humanitarian Trainee Scheme:

Find out more about the Talent Development Project here, or listen to our recent podcast, outlining the findings of our mid-term review of the TDP.