Inclusion

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19/11/2021 | Press release

“We need to do better” – IFRC report reveals gaps in child protection during climate related disasters

Kingston, Jamaica – November 19, 2021. Adolescents overwhelmingly feel that they do not have the information needed to be safe from potential violence, abuse, and exploitation in climate related disasters. This is one of the main findings of “We Need to Do Better: Climate Related Disasters, Child Protection and Localizing Action in the Caribbean,” a recent study conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The report has revealed that even though climate related disasters affect each person in the region, children are particularly at risk. They make up a large portion of the population of the Caribbean and are most vulnerable to encountering violence, abuse, and exploitation in disaster settings, while systems to protect them do not always work. The study also highlights that there are no specific laws in place to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation when disasters happen. Gurvinder Singh, IFRC’s Child Protection Senior Advisor and one of the authors of the report, said: “While children potentially have great leadership and innovation capabilities, unfortunately, their voices are rarely being sought out or heard. Furthermore, there is a huge deficit in meaningful opportunities for children to be engaged in decisions that affect them. This is especially prominent in the stages of preparing for and responding to disasters. Adolescents believe that even if they do participate, their opinions may not be taken seriously by adults.” By putting the voices, perspectives, and ideas of children at the forefront, the report seeks to understand the generally unexplored relationships between climate related disasters and children’s concerns around violence, abuse, exploitation, and mental health challenges. It also sends a warning to governments and civic organisations to play a more active role in the promotion of and respect for the rights of the child, especially with regards to the issue of child abuse and the need for urgent effective prevention programmes. Ariel Kestens, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean, said: “It is critical that governments enhance domestic laws, invest in child protection systems, improve local coordination, train local responders, include protection and climate change in school curriculum, and collect sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data in disaster responses. The IFRC Network across the Caribbean stands ready to support them to continue striving to meet the best interests of each child affected by more and more frequent, and destructive climate related disasters.” The report also recommends practical actions for the humanitarian sector, such as designing child-friendly communications, implementing community feedback mechanisms, including child protection in anticipatory action, integrating child protection across preparedness, assessments and planning, and creating spaces for children and adults to engage, support one another and find viable solutions to protection risks. The study was based on discussions and an online survey with 198 adolescents ages 14-17 years in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; interviews with 30 adults from different disaster and child protection agencies, and background research. It is part of the campaign “We Need to Do Better” by the IFRC to enhance protection of children in climate related disasters. The full report may be accessed here. The adolescent summary of the report is available here. For more information, please contact: In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected] In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected]

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19/07/2021 | Basic page

Protection, Gender and Inclusion

For the IFRC to remain true to our principles, we must ensure we reach all people effectively and in a non-discriminatory and equitable manner. Our work must ensure dignity, access, participation and safety for all people affected by disasters and crises.

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23/06/2021 | Basic page

Inclusion, protection and engagement

At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we believe that diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act. Through all of our work, we aim to protect and promote a positive change for humanity, based on our humanitarian values and Fundamental Principles.

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01/07/2020 | Article

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Statement on building an environment free from racism and discrimination

The continued wave of Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism protests, across the United States and beyond, has put a spotlight firmly on deeply ingrained historic and systemic racist attitudes and discrimination against Black people and people of colour – including in the humanitarian sector and in our own organisations. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is committed to help achieve the required changes to all systems that are oppressive to people of colour.In recent weeks, many colleagues across the Movement have spoken up about their own experiences or perceptions of racism and discrimination. Many have expressed solidarity. There is a clear collective desire to achieve equality and dignity in the treatment of all people – those whom we serve and those who serve with us. This is also a global call for equal access by all - including migrants, indigenous peoples and minorities - to food, shelter, health care, education, and full respect for international humanitarian law.Some of the conversations have been painful and uncomfortable, revealing hard truths about racism and related discrimination. These include entrenched problems of power imbalances and subtle, insidious, and unconscious inequity engrained in our structures and history.At both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we have been listening, learning and asking ourselves some serious and difficult questions about these issues within our organisations. We need to do better, and we need to be better.Rejection of discrimination of all kinds lies at the heart of our Fundamental Principles and values. Our principles of humanity and impartiality demand that there be no discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. This is key to ensuring that the suffering of anyone in need may be relieved. Our principle of neutrality does not mean staying silent in the face of racism and violence.The Fundamental Principles provide the ethical, operational, and institutional framework for our work as a Movement around the world. Drawing on our principles, it is our duty to take forward the drive for diversity. We are committed to the global struggle to promote and protect the rights of all, with no exception.The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has long embraced inclusive initiatives. The very structure of National Societies makes our global network particularly inclusive of people of colour, different ethnic origins and religious backgrounds. However, our humanitarian work and financing demand that we continuously examine our own behaviour, practices and structures to ensure that we are holding ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to inclusion and social equity.Most importantly we must also ensure that words are translated into a meaningful reality. Achieving this requires total commitment across the whole Movement. We know that achieving genuine inclusion and diversity must begin first within our organisations. We need to better understand the linkages between discrimination, power imbalances and disadvantage. We need to dismantle the systemic barriers that may prevent colleagues from achieving equality because of their gender or their racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. We know we have more work to do in this regard.That is why, on behalf of the ICRC and IFRC leadership, we wish to express our firm and unequivocal condemnation of racism in all its forms, and to commit to taking steps toward ensuring an environment free from all discrimination within our Movement. This includes: At all levels, working to deliver the individual, structural and cultural change that will ensure no form of discrimination, intolerance or exclusion on racial or other grounds takes place within our organisations. Building a supportive, safe and inclusive environment to continue to foster honest conversations around racism and discrimination. This includes encouraging difficult questions to improve mutual trust, respect and acceptance of each other’s diversity. It also entails strengthening understanding and support for better practices within the Movement, enabling all to have their voices heard and respected. Working to remove any culture of fear or impunity is an important aspect of this. Assisting victims of racism and racial discrimination and working actively with all stakeholders and partners at all levels to create the conditions to ensure the safety of all persons or communities affected by racism or discrimination on racial grounds. Ensuring that our institutional frameworks and statutory commitments prevent and strictly prohibit any forms of racial discrimination, and that racism and discrimination are expressly prohibited behaviours in our Codes of Conduct. Renewing our commitment to advancing the Fundamental Principles of our Movement, which aim for truly inclusive humanitarian action, and implementing activities that promote a spirit of racial tolerance.The ICRC, for its part, commits to ensuring that there are clear and unambiguous expectations of its hiring managers, as just one specific example. A range of supportive policies and practices are being developed by the leadership team to drive organisation-wide progress. The ICRC also stands firm in its commitment to engage communities in the decisions that affect their lives, breaking through power dynamics and patterns of exclusion.The IFRC commits to working to fulfil the commitments in the Safe and Inclusive Workplace Pledge, launched at the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 2019. This allows the IFRC to commit to ensuring that the organisation and the wider Movement are as safe, inclusive and accessible as possible; to eradicate racism whenever and wherever it is found; and to address any overt, hidden or unconscious biases and discrimination within its systems. This is essential to ensure that the Fundamental Principles are upheld, and that all people are treated with dignity and respect.The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has a responsibility to rebuild fractured communities. All of us in the Movement are united by a common purpose: to make a positive difference in the lives of people affected by conflict, disasters and crisis. We are committed to ensuring that this driving force applies equally to how we treat one another within our own organisations. We are committed to upholding our Fundamental Principles and making our Movement as inclusive and accessible as possible, in words and deeds.Jagan ChapagainSecretary GeneralIFRCRobert MardiniDirector-GeneralICRC

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30/09/2019 | Article

Everyone Counts Report 2019

Has the IFRC achieved gender parity? Which National Society produces the highest quality of data? Who are the people behind the data? The 2019 edition of the Everyone Counts report explores the potential of data to tell stories about National Societies in a new and different way than anything that has been done before. The 2019’s edition focuses on themes of diversity and inclusion, and this report represents some of our work in analyzing how it is practiced in National Societies and at the Secretariat itself. Our most recent round of data collection was the first that asked National Societies to report whether they collect disability-disaggregated data on staff, volunteers, and people reached by their programmes. Successes and challenges encountered by the more than 40 National Societies that collect this data are presented in chapter 4 of this report. We also discuss the importance of collecting disability-disaggregated data within the context of humanitarian operations to ensure that we are reaching the most vulnerable members of the communities in which we operate. How are women represented at different levels of governance? In National Societies? In programmes? We explore these questions in chapter 5 and attempt to demonstrate how far the Federation network has come – and how far we must go – when it comes to gender inclusion. Rather than trying to avoid contentious discourse, this chapter lays bare the reality of gender representation in the Secretariat and National Societies with the intention of advancing the discussion around gender and gender parity. Data is most informative when we draw it out from the screen and into the real world. Using the innovative SenseMaker research tool that captures stories from individuals in the communities we serve allows us to bring the data to life in ways that would otherwise not be possible. We traveled to Cambodia to examine the context behind the numbers, and to see how community-based health programmes implemented by the Cambodian Red Cross Society were transforming their host communities. These stories were told by the people we are committed to serving, and it brings our data narratives full circle by reminding us that the human impact is our ultimate goal. Throughout this report, we have included ‘Dangerous Interpretations’ to encourage readers to engage critically with the data and to hopefully provide some new insights into how our readers view the work of National Societies. We consider it to be of the utmost importance that our community of readers are actively engaged with the data and can use it to generate their own ideas. Check out the Everyone Counts report, theFDRS websiteor this link to download the complete database. From all of us on the FDRS team, we wish you happy reading!

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09/08/2019 | Article

Women are the agents of change for climate change in southern Africa

By: Dr Michael Charles Today South Africa marks Women’s Day. Much like the women being commemorated for the march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, women in southern Africa today may well hold the same flint that lights a “new movement” – climate change. Southern Africa is one of the regions projected to experience the most serious consequences of global warming and the El Niño effect. In 2019, we experienced one of the worst disasters the region has ever seen - Cyclone Idai ravaged communities in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe and continue to rebuild their lives. Urgent action is needed to increase the region’s preparedness for natural disasters. It is only a matter of time until the next disaster strikes. Being female often automatically means that personal susceptibility to sexual and domestic violence, rape and assault in emergency situations is significantly heightened. Women experience additional difficulties because they are typically responsible for sourcing water and preparing food; caring for children, the injured, sick and elderly; and maintaining family and community cohesion. Tackling climate change is, undoubtedly, women’s business. They have a vested interest in avoiding and mitigating the impacts of climate change. It is time that humanitarian actors and policy and decision-makers mainstream gender in policy and practice. It is not a “nice to do”; it is crucial to making real and sustainable differences in the lives of affected people. In 1956, 200,000 South African women declared that enough was enough and acted to defend themselves and the unity and integrity of their families from restrictive laws that required them to carry a pass to reside and move freely in urban areas. Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock! was the rallying cry of that day, used to signify the women’s unshakeable and unbreakable resolve in the face of adversity as they marched to the Union Building in Pretoria, and sparked change in the course of South Africa’s history. As countries in southern Africa ramp up their disaster risk management and humanitarian organisations work to strengthen community recovery and resilience, women in southern Africa should not just be considered victims and survivors who need special protection and assistance. They are forces for change who can be relied on to represent themselves within their communities and at the highest decision-making levels. [caption id="attachment_55507" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Photo: Sonia and other Red Cross volunteers speak to Dr. Michael Charles in Beira, Mozambique[/caption] I am always inspired by the women I meet responding in disasters, most recently in Cyclone Idai. Women like, Sonia, a volunteer who was working long hours to support women in a shelter, displaced by Cyclone Idai or Flora, who was affected herself by flooding but was dedicated to helping her neighbours rebuild their homes and their lives. Happy Women’s Day, South Africa. May the flame that was lit in 1956 and the fire of women’s empowerment and participation that was built over the decades rage on. Dr Michael Charles is the Head of the Southern Africa Cluster of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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22/07/2019 | Article

Providing safe spaces for child migrants in Ecuador

“It is emotional work. When children arrive they are so exhausted and need time to rest, play and not be seen as migrants,” says William Guerra. He is a volunteer with the Ecuador Red Cross supporting a safe space for children in the town of Lago Agrio, in the Province of Sucumbíos, which is a border point with Colombia. Many of the migrant children and families who arrive at the border come to Colombia from Venezuela as their country experiences severe political and economic distress. The numbers of children who cross this border point can fluctuate each day. Recently there have been as many as thirty and forty children each day, many with a parent or grandparent, but some also migrating alone. In response to the needs faced by migrant children, the Ecuador Red Cross implements 14 safe spaces in 11 provinces across the country. It also has additional mobile safe spaces it deploys when the number of migrants increase. The mobile spaces support children as they walk for long distances in hard to access locations. Marisol Pallo, another volunteer in Lago Agrio explains that each safe space provides an assortment of humanitarian services to children and families that seek to improve psychosocial wellbeing and protection. “We see that children here have many needs so we help with first aid, restoring family links, discussing child rights, play, and just let children be surrounded by normal things. We also provide shoes to replace the broken and worn down ones.” Marisol notes, “We need to work hard because we know this is not normal and childhood should not be this way.” Priscila Naranjo, a local college student who volunteers at the safe space, tell us, “We see so many bad stories about migrants in the news but the reality is so different. Here you see the humanitarian needs and that these are just children like all other children.”

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18/07/2019 | Article

Everyone Counts: why gender parity and equality make us better humanitarians

By Prof. Cecile Aptel, Director of Policy, Strategy and Knowledge, IFRCGender and diversity are about what we do, how we do it, and who we are as humanitarians.Diversity is at the heart of the Red Cross and Red Crescent network, which is made up of National Societies assembling 13.7 million volunteers in more than 190 countries, and an international secretariat in Geneva. A critical element of that diversity is gender equality, which is key to a humanitarian organization delivering better support and services.Sadly, we know from experience that women and girls are often disproportionately affected by disasters or crises, and are at higher risk of violence, abuse, neglect, discrimination, and being left behind. To effectively reach these women and girls, humanitarian organizations must themselves be inclusive: they must include women and girls’ perspectives at all levels of decision-making, from the design of a programme to its evaluation through its delivery, and therefore must have women at all levels, including the highest ones.For several years now, the breadth and depth of the programmes and services of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have been captured in its Federation-Wide Databank and Reporting System. This year, for the first time, we have reviewed our performance by analysing the number of women reached by Red Cross and Red Crescent programmes, as well as the proportion of women in staff and governance. The sex disaggregated data at all levels of the network - from leadership and governing bodies, to paid staff and volunteers, and all the way to the people reached and supported by its activities - has been analysed and the results are published in the Everyone Counts report, which we are launching today.As of 2017, women comprised 52 per cent of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, 50 per cent of National Society staff, and 45 per cent of IFRC’s paid staff worldwide. Yet, the percentage of women on IFRC’s Governing Board was only 17 per cent – significantly lower than the 31 per cent figure across National Societies. Globally, only 21 per cent of National Society Presidents and just 31 per cent of National Society Secretaries General are women. The results are variable by region and are affected by both the National Societies themselves as well as the communities they are situated in: if a country is doing well with regard to gender equality, this tends to be reflected within its National Society.These numbers provide a baseline but we know that sex disaggregation is only one indicator of gender equality, and other issues should be taken into consideration when striving for a more inclusive Red Cross and Red Crescent. To start with, sex and gender are different things: sex refers to biology, and does not capture all the dimensions of gender as a social construct. The categories of men, women, boys, girls and other gender identities are all made up of individuals with different lives, roles and vulnerabilities, and societal structures often amplify these.In this context, is it enough for humanitarian organizations to reach equally men and women? Shouldn’t they also aim to ensure that the specific needs of women and girls are addressed, for instance in terms of menstrual hygiene? And contribute to achieving a more level playing field where parity can actually lead to gender equality, social justice, and a better future?Having women able to speak and be heard at all levels of an organization is vital if these questions are to be asked, and to be answered meaningfully. This year’s Everyone Counts report is a reminder that more is needed on this front. Because there are structural and cultural barriers preventing skilled, talented, and committed women from progressing in their humanitarian careers, everyone – especially men - should work together to dismantle those barriers.The IFRC is committed to rising to this challenge. It has recently announced that, by 2028, its secretariat will have gender parity at all staffing levels. It is also working with National Societies across the world to help them set their own targets based on their own analysis of current staffing as well as projected growth and staff turnover.A Red Cross and Red Crescent network with sex parity as a prelude to gender equality will be better able to function and deliver more considered and more effective services. It will be a better reflection of the communities we work alongside, and be better able to harness the full power of humanity in all its diversity. This is who we should be as humanitarians.

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