Manila/Geneva, 14 November 2018 – Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders from across Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East committed today to ensuring women make up at least 50 percent of elected and appointed leadership positions within the next four years.

This landmark target is in the “Manila Declaration”, the outcome of the 10th Asia Pacific Red Cross and Red Crescent Regional Conference, which was held 11 to 14 November in the Philippines, and co-hosted by the Philippine Red Cross, and involved more than 300 humanitarian leaders from more than 60 countries.

Welcoming the decision, Lyndal Herbert, Deputy President of the Australian Red Cross, Vice Chair of the conference and Asia Pacific focal point of the Glow Red women’s network of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said, “This is an ambitious target and it demonstrates how serious the IFRC is to achieving gender parity at all levels of our organizations. This is about fairness, but above all it is about effectiveness.

“We know diversity of background, of experience and of views leads to better outcomes for the people we are serving. So it’s also good to see a commitment that half of our members will have volunteers, especially youth, in leadership positions.

In addition to gender parity, the conference also set ambitious targets for increasing the number and diversity of volunteers, for improving and expanding support to vulnerable migrants and displaced people, and for the adoption of new and innovative approaches to disaster response, including forecast-based financing.

IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sy said, “What emerged from our discussions over the past three days was a common understanding of just how quickly our world is changing. We heard a lot from people responding to a range of crises who talked about how their work is becoming much more complex and much, much more demanding.

“As a result, there is a genuine appetite for new approaches – for approaches that are more about prevention than response, that are more cost-effective and that, importantly, place more emphasis on the dignity and agency of vulnerable people.”

Another of the major themes to emerge was integrity. All National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies present committed to putting in place or strengthening policies on the prevention of fraud and corruption and sexual abuse and exploitation.

Mr Sy said, “There was a very broad recognition that trust in the humanitarian sector is a valuable asset. It was very encouraging to see such a strong commitment to setting even higher standards for integrity, transparency and accountability to allow us to better serve the most vulnerable.”

The full Manila Declaration is available for download here.

Related content
Media contacts

In Manila:

Rana Sidani Cassou, +961 71 80 2779, Rana.CASSOU@ifrc.org

Rosemarie North, +60 12230 845, Rosemarie.North@ifrc.org

In Geneva: Matthew Cochrane, +41 79 251 80 39, matthew.cochrane@ifrc.org