Turkish Red Crescent
“Soft power is indeed a superpower”
Edvina entered the world of humanitarian projects as a volunteer at the age of 16 in various NGOs based in Serbia, Germany and Sweden. With RCRC her paths crossed years later in 2019.
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Turkish Red Crescent

Edvina Bihorac is a humanitarian professional with over 7 years of progressive experience in diplomacy and humanitarian work across different sectors. Her extensive operational and managerial experience in the humanitarian arena spanning different continents (including Europe, Africa, Latin and Central America), demonstrates profound understanding of global challenges and the ability to implement effective solutions across diverse cultural contexts.

Edvina encountered numerous moments of enlightenment through her humanitarian activities that have changed her outlook on the world. Through professional experiences across different continents (Europe, Asia, Latin America, Central America and Africa), she has come to understand the multifaceted nature of equality. In addition, there are steps beyond merely “treating everyone equally”.
Aiming for equal treatment for all, if irrespective of their varying needs, can inadvertently widen existing gaps. Thus, Edvina emphasizes the importance of not just equality, but also equity, in our efforts.

Soft power is indeed a superpower, according to Edvina, who believes that compassion, coupled with high emotional intelligence, enables women to delve beneath the surface of human suffering, leading to a more profound understanding and comprehensive analysis of the situation at hand. In addition, Edvina believes that the humanitarian field trains us to think in terms of long-term solutions, building resilience and developing preparedness tools, rather than addressing acute situations.

Furthermore, Edvina acknowledges the ongoing journey of learning to strike a delicate balance between providing swift and practical solutions in emergencies while ensuring their long-term sustainability. This dynamic field continually challenges her to refine her skills and adapt her approach accordingly.

“There have been noticeable positive changes in the humanitarian sector regarding inclusivity, diversity, and the empowerment of women in leadership roles”

– Edvina Bihorac, Turkey

“We can clearly see the efforts to enhance female leadership in our Movement’s strategic framework, the efforts of the Protection, Gender and Inclusion Working Group that we are a member of, as well as Grand Bargain Localization Workstream’s documents. Moreover, the Turkish Red Crescent takes pride in being led by the first female president of our National Society.”

While Edvina considers herself fortunate to have begun her career in a National Society where there a plenty of female leaders, female volunteers and even a dedicated unit established in 2020, namely the Turkish Red Crescent Women Unit, she observes disparities in gender representation across the broader Movement.

“One notable challenge in the Movement is the underrepresentation of women, particularly at the top management level. This underrepresentation can stem from a combination of societal expectations, biological factors, and upbringing, which may perpetuate gender inequalities within the organization.

However, it's essential to acknowledge the progress made. There have been many inspiring occasions where women demonstrate resilience, leadership, and dedication in their humanitarian work, contributing significantly to the organization's goals and objectives, one of which was the latest election of the IFRC President, where two out of the four presidential candidates were women.

Effecting change to address gender disparities and promote female leadership requires intentional and sustained efforts. Better education and opportunities will lead to more qualified female representation. Additionally, offering actionable, strengths-based professional development plans for emerging women leaders would help us leverage and unleash our strengths. Unbiased career mapping is essential.

It is quite sad that women have had to disproportionately bear the burden of advocating and fighting for equality or proving the benefits of leadership diversity. However, amplifying their voices, sharing success stories or even research that support the relevant arguments will help raise awareness of the difficulties women face.

Gender-equitable leadership is critical, but not only for ethical purposes, but also for the organization’s bottom line. McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm that has been researching women in the workplace for over a decade, found that significant female representation in an organization’s upper ranks can increase company profits and share performance by nearly 50%.”

Edvina Bihorac

Turkey, 2019

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Only 24.3% of all national parliamentarians were women as of February 2019, a slow increase from 11.3% in 1995.

– UN Women

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