Theme DIHAD 2014 :  Women and Aid; women, on whom disasters and crises inflict a disproportionate amount of suffering and women, essential providers of relief and assistance


Message from the Director of DISAB

On behalf of the International Scientific Advisory Board of DIHAD, I am most pleased to welcome you to the eleventh edition of this unique event: DIHAD 2014.

With DIHAD 2014 we will strive to go beyond what we have achieved to date. We will try to not only share and review humanitarian as well as development policies and practices, we will attempt to delve into some of these with a perspective heretofore often overshadowed by more “traditional” concerns.

It is my pleasure to welcome you, not only to attend, but to actively participate in this high-level event which will, again, bring together international agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, foundations and charities, media representatives and academics, the corporate sector, Red Crescent and Red Cross Societies as well as individual practitioners and experts in development and humanitarian aid.

DIHAD 2014 aims to contribute to the current dialogue on aid issues by raising and discussing some of the most pressing challenges currently facing the humanitarian assistance and development domains, as seen – where relevant – from the perspective of the Gulf region. As per the established DIHAD tradition, these discussions will not be held for the sake of dialogue alone, but rather with the aim of identifying clear, practical and realistic lessons learned, as well as strategic directions forward. While presentations by high-level experts will provide the substantive backbone to all sessions, the Conference will ensure there is active interaction with and among the panelists at all times.

The theme of DIHAD 2014 is “Women and Aid; women, on whom disasters and crises inflict a disproportionate amount of suffering and women, essential providers of relief and assistance”.

In the UN System, as well as in other international organisations and NGOs, organisational units are being either created or reinforced to focus on women, on women’s rights, on women’s specific plights (in crises and disasters) and on women’s roles (and the importance thereof). Much is being said (also at the Humanitarian Segment of the last session of the UN’s Economic and Social Council) on the need for consistently desegregating what has mostly been, to date,  gender-neutral information in regard to needs and requirements in disaster and conflict settings.

Increasingly so, women’s specific requirements are not only evident in disaster and crisis settings, including aspects of protection in refugee and IDP contexts, but also given the appropriate degree of importance in the realm of development. Poverty represents a whole host of challenges which women experience in particularly harsh ways. A particular perspective can/should also be that of the Millennium Development Goals and the issue of access – by women – to various development initiatives. The Aid community is constantly going through a process of review of what they do and how they do it, recognising that their resources are limited and that the needs they are addressing are – unfortunately so – not diminishing.. In this connection, a “coin” seems to have recently “dropped”: what better way of understanding the specific circumstances faced by women, in a variety of vulnerability-inducing environments, than to have women involved in the activities addressing these issues? Women humanitarian actors and development workers are by definition more sensitive to these specific requirements, they are more easily accepted and they are more effective advocates for the situations involving women which they encounter.

Violence against women is seemingly ubiquitous, especially in areas of conflict, and more and more vehemently denounced, also by the increasingly sensitised media. It needs to be addressed on a global scale, also through the enhanced dissemination of related information. In this connection, an increasingly large number of associations are being created, these to be active in prevention, protection, advocacy and law enforcement, inter alia.

It is thus duly fitting to have “Women and Aid” be the theme of this DIHAD event. DIHAD has consistently been at the forefront of topical issues and, this time again, it will highlight a set of concerns now being universally recognised and increasingly addressed in a focused manner.  The Conference will look at Women, on whom disasters and crises inflict a disproportionate amount of suffering, and at Women, essential providers of relief and assistance. This year again, DIHAD should be arriving at innovative conclusions..

A large number of personalities and organizations have been contacted and will be actively contributing to the event.

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime-Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has very kindly agreed to again officially open the Conference.

Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme, has accepted our invitation to speak at the Opening. H.E. Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of International Cooperation and Development, will both speak at the Opening and chair the Session on “Women and Disasters”. The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, and Ms. Baige Zhao, Vice – President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, will deliver the Conference’s Keynote Addresses. Dr. Fathima Gailani, President, Afghanistan Red Crescent Society, will chair the Session on “Women and War”. The Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Dr. Sergio Piazzi, will deliver one of the Closing Addresses.

Notwithstanding the Conference’s theme, half a day will be devoted to the crisis in Syria, this in lieu of previous years’ sessions on “Humanitarian Trends” and “Chronic Emergencies”. A variety of perspectives will be represented in this Extended Session, which will be split into two: one dealing with assistance requirements in-country (to be chaired by Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society) and one dealing with the sizeable effects of the crisis – specifically the flow of refugees – on neighbouring countries (to be chaired by the Director-General of IOM, H.E. Ambassador William Swing). Panelists will include the Secretary-General of the UAE Red Crescent Authority, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs of the OIC, the Regional Emergency Coordinator of WFP, the Regional Refugee Coordinator of UNHCR and the Secretary-General of IIROSA.

International assistance benefits greatly, as we know, from the knowledge which actors have about each other and about each other’s capacities. Moreover, all concerned duly benefit from clarity in regard to respective roles and mandates and from a coordinated approach which enhanced mutual knowledge and understanding facilitates.

On behalf of DIHAD’s International Scientific Advisory Board, I thank all participants – the special guests, the speakers and panelists, the exhibitors, those registered to attend the Conference and the pre-Conference Workshop as well as the organisers – for contributing to the continued success of DIHAD. DIHAD 2014 will again be a landmark event, focused on the region but drawing on global expertise and now universally recognised.

Last year we celebrated our tenth anniversary; as we embark on our second decade, we are heartened by – and grateful for – the trust, the interest and the support of our many partners!

H.E. Gerhard J. W. Putman-Cramer
Director, DISAB