What's it like to be a woman humanitarian working in the field?

A female aid worker with the European Union’s humanitarian aid arm talks to a refugee in Ethiopia. Photo by: Anouk Delafortrie / ECHO / CC BY-NC-ND 

Humanitarians face a multitude of safety and security risks while on deployment, but women can face specific challenges — from leading teams in male-dominated environments to dealing with menstruation in remote areas without proper provision to the threat of sexual violence.

Devex spoke to Sarah Robinson, project coordinator for MedAir’s emergency response unit in South Sudan, and Maria Ferrante, a seasoned humanitarian specializing in refugee protection, to find out what life in the field is like and what advice they have for overcoming everyday challenges.

About the author

  • Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a Reporter at Devex. She covers all things related to careers and hiring in the global development community as well as mental health within the sector — from tips on supporting humanitarian staff to designing mental health programs for refugees. Emma has reported from key development hubs in Europe and co-produced Devex’s DevProWomen2030 podcast series. She holds a degree in journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University and a master's in media and international conflict. In addition to writing for regional news publications, she has worked with organizations focused on child and women’s rights.