”In the communities that faced devastating losses, women were natural leaders”
For Aishath Noora Mohamed, the 2004 Tsunami was a call to action. As a young woman at the early stages of what would become a long and impressive humanitarian career, Noora was a volunteer providing Psychosocial Support to the affected populations in the Maldives during the initial response phase. Noora describes it as “[her] first experience in finding a deep and profound meaning in humanitarian action”.
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Throughout her time as a volunteer responding to this immense disaster, Noora found inspirational women all around her. She states that “...It was also a time when I met many inspirational women, from those leading and organizing the Psychosocial Support teams, to the women who were managing their day to day lives of taking care of their families and communities, amidst their own losses of their homes, livelihoods, and in some cases, children or family members. In the communities that faced devastating losses of their homes and infrastructure, women were natural leaders in organizing teams to manage the communal responsibilities of organizing and managing the temporary shelters that were provided. It was an experience that made me a firm believer of the value of women humanitarian.”

Noora continued her humanitarian career joining the American Red Cross as the Community Project Manager, in this role she oriented and managed more than 1500 volunteers spanning across seven Atolls in the Maldives. Noora was one of the eighteen elected representatives chosen to represent Maldives at the country’s first General Assembly. After completing her master’s degree, Noora returned to the Maldives Red Crescent to provide technical and advisory support to the society, especially in terms of Psychosocial Support.

”The crucial factor of trust is built among beneficiaries and humanitarian workers”

– Aishath Noora Mohamed, The Maldives

As the Secretary General for the Maldives Red Crescent since 2016, Noora is a strong advocate for women’s participation at every level of governance and at every level of an emergency. Noora acknowledges that the “increased number of women working in humanitarian settings bring unparalleled access in some situations of crises and disasters, especially in more conservative communities. Having women aid workers on the field ensures that women in crises and conflict, who experience and bear the burden of disasters and violence differently and disproportionately, feel more at ease and comfortable in the presence of other women. This also means that the crucial factor of trust is built among beneficiaries and humanitarian workers.”

For Noora, hearing everyone’s voice is crucial both within a humanitarian response and within governance composition. Noora acknowledges the fact that “[d]espite the value women contribute to humanitarian work, we are still not leveraging the extremely rich knowledge and experiences that are available to us. To be more effective, and to reach further through our humanitarian services, evidence is clear that all humanitarian organizations must become even more diverse and inclusive, to ensure that there is ample access and to ensure the protection of dignity and rights of everyone, especially women.”

Aishath Noora Mohamed

The Maldives, 2004

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Between 1990 and 2017, women made up only 2 per cent of mediators, 8 per cent of negotiators and 5 per cent of witnesses and signatories to global peace processes.

– UN Women

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