The Central Role of Women in Disaster Response

The Central Role of Women in Disaster Response

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. Women play a vital role in responding to emergencies in their own communities around the world; they also play a crucial role in every facet of Airlink’s work. 

Some 80% of Airlink’s team are women, and 50% of the organization’s senior management is female. And despite being underrepresented in technical and leadership roles within aviation (3% of C-level positions, 5% of pilots, 2.4% of mechanics, and 16% of ATC work), there are also many women within the aviation industry who work tirelessly on Airlink’s behalf, whether that is on our volunteer leadership or in our airline and nonprofit partner organizations. These women do a tremendous amount of work to help drive forward, fundraise, and promote Airlink’s work globally. We are grateful to all of them.

Airlink’s work centers around disaster relief and logistics, and women make up just 40% and 37% of those sectors, respectively. Meanwhile, disasters affect more women than men, and their livelihoods are more likely to be adversely affected; some 60% of preventable maternal deaths occur in the wake of humanitarian emergencies, and gender-based violence and trafficking see significant spikes during disasters, conflicts, and complex crises. The World Bank has done some interesting research about this disparity and how to address it. Suffice to say, the reasons for these disparities are numerous and varied.

However, when women are included in decision-making around humanitarian action—from the ways that our sector works with communities, to the way aid is delivered, to investment in resiliency—disaster assistance works better. According to UN Women, they are “often the first responders to a crisis, and play a central role in the survival and resilience of families and communities.”

As the CEO of Airlink, I’m very proud of our team and the work we do to help empower and improve outcomes for women and girls post disasters. Because of this team’s work, Airlink brought aid and hope to over 5 million people, in the aftermath of a host of natural and man-made disasters.

Airlink is committed to supporting programs that positively impact women’s lives. This includes investing in diversity within our own organization and working to track the ways that the programs we support positively engage women in disaster-affected communities.

Resources and references:

PreventionWeb: ‘More Female Leaders Needed in Disaster Recovery’ 

We News: ‘Women are at the Heart of Disaster Preparedness and Response’

Women in Aviation: A Workforce Report

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