On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Oxfam Australia will celebrate its women aid workers who have dedicated their lives to ending human poverty and suffering in some of the world’s poorest countries.
“On this special day we salute our female aid workers in countries as close as Papua New Guinea and as distant as Zimbabwe who are working to improve the lives of vulnerable people,” said Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director, Andrew Hewett.
Tegan Molony who is based in Gizo, Solomon Islands manages the emergency relief program that Oxfam established following the tsunami that hit the country almost one year ago. “I have also worked in Pakistan, East Timor and Liberia,” said Tegan, currently on leave in Sydney.
“The women I work with in the Solomons are comfortable talking to me. They invite me into their homes, into the heart of their family, and really open up. This way, I discover their problems. Perhaps their children are sick or they may not have the means to take care of their families. Then we figure out how we can help,” she said.
Tegan is one of thirty women Oxfam Australia has deployed over the past year to assist vulnerable people around the world. Tegan and her female colleagues work in roles as diverse as logistics, public health and project management, but they are all united by a common goal – to reduce human poverty and to assist vulnerable communities. The life of an aid worker is not for everyone and it can be tough.
International postings are often to remote regions of the world far from the familiar sights and sounds of home. Food is basic and electricity blackout is common place. But despite these hardships, all of Oxfam’s female aid workers are committed to creating a just world without poverty.
Rebecca Vince, 26, is currently on mission with Oxfam in northern Papua New Guinea, where she is helping villagers recover from the devastating affects of a cyclone that lashed the region last November. Cyclone Guba left up to 145,000 people without adequate access to shelter, food and water as well as medicine. “Women are hit hard by natural disasters such as the cyclone and flooding that ravaged parts of PNG last year,” said Rebecca.
“They have to care for their children. Meanwhile their homes and livelihoods are often destroyed and every day is an effort to find food and clean water. Over the past few months I have been inspired and humbled by the resilience and strength they have shown rebuilding their lives here in Papua New Guinea,” she said.
In developing countries, women are particularly disadvantaged, and that’s why Oxfam often prioritize them for humanitarian assistance and support. Women make up nearly 70 per cent of the world’s 1.3 billion people living in poverty, 65 per cent of the world’s refugees, and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population. Oxfam Australia understands that women in developing countries are not considered equals of their male counterparts and works to address this disadvantage.
Australian Women Online would like to join Oxfam Australia in saluting our nation’s dedicated aid workers. We are proud of you.