In the lead-up to International Women’s Day this 8 March, CARE’s Gender in Emergencies Specialist Isadora Quay explains what it means to work for a better world for women and girls, men and boys, as well as the important part we can all play in this.
What does your role entail on a day-to-day basis?
I make sure CARE International’s emergency response meets the different needs of women and men, girls and boys. One week, I might be in a refugee camp in Jordan leading assessments. Another week, in Canberra working with Parliamentarians. Then in Geneva meeting with the rest of the CARE International team. And, the week after that, training people about why the different needs of women and men are important.
How did you become involved in humanitarian work?
I grew up in an ex-mining town in Scotland where poverty and drug abuse was the norm. I always wanted to do something to help. My travels showed me that poverty wasn’t limited to Scotland and that it required global solutions.
What are the most rewarding/challenging parts of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is knowing I can do something to make a difference when I see the awful humanitarian crises going on around the world, such as conflicts in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.
Most people just turn off the TV when they see this because it is all too much to handle. I think I’m privileged that with my job, I can try to do something to help some of the millions of people who are suffering.
What are the most significant humanitarian crises we are facing, both at home and abroad?
One is El Nino, which is in many ways, a hidden crisis and the effects are only just becoming visible. We are starting to see droughts in Australia, parts of the Pacific, the Horn of Africa and southern Africa that are leading to severe food shortages in countries as close to us as Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. At the same time, there are predictions of stronger storms in other parts of the Pacific and flooding in Central and South America.
Secondly, I’d focus on Yemen, a country in the Middle East just south of Saudi Arabia, which is in the midst of a bloody civil war. Almost every person in Yemen is affected by the war: that’s nearly 20 million people – more than the number of people affected by the wars in Syria and South Sudan combined.
At home, I’m concerned about the state and treatment of our Indigenous people and refugees.
What do you see as the most significant challenges for women in the developed and developing world?
Change. There continues to be massive changes to women’s roles in many societies around the world, both in developed and developing countries.
This change is difficult for many men and women to handle and I think one of the consequences of this is domestic or gender-based violence.
What can everyday Australians do each day to make a difference?
We’ve all got a role to play in helping to positively change the role of women and girls in our societies. There are some amazing initiatives happening around Australia to help us do that. CARE Australia also does a lot of work around the world in community outreach and educating young people, which you can support.
You can join Isadora in helping women and girls around the world to build their own brighter futures by signing up to CARE’s Walk in Her Shoes challenge.
A version of this article was first published by Mamamia as a part of their “13 Australian heroes you haven’t heard of” series. You can read the full interview here.