October 7, 2020 | Watch Video
Shoko Arakaki, Director, Humanitarian Office, UNFPA, Geneva
Beatrice Ndanu, Gender and Gender Based Violence Officer, Nairobi
April Pham, Senior Gender Advisor and Head of Gender Unit, OCHA, New York
Devon Cone, Senior Advocate for Women and Girls, Refugees International (Moderator)

The WFPG hosted a virtual conversation focused on strategies to protect displaced women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic with Shoko Arakaki of UNFPA, Nairobi-based gender officer Beatrice Ndanu, April Pham of OCHA, and moderator Devon Cone of Refugees International. The speakers discussed the multitude of challenges faced by displaced women and girls and how they have been exacerbated by the pandemic: gender-based violence, food insecurity, reduction of sexual and reproductive health services, disrupted education, and loss of economic independence. To address these challenges, the panelists highlighted the importance of ensuring access to reliable information, as well as the rapid incorporation of new technology. International organizations and NGOs have demonstrated extraordinary flexibility, and the speakers highlighted the implementation of innovative strategies such as mobile money transfers, digital mental health services, and virtual platforms for information dissemination. In closing, the speakers emphasized the need to include women in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of any decision or policy. Doing so will not only address the immediate needs of displaced women and girls, but also create long-term reforms towards achieving gender equality.

Shoko ArakakiShoko Arakaki is Director of the Humanitarian Office of the United Nations Population Fund. Previously, she served as Chief of Branch, Partnerships, Inter-governmental process and Inter-agency cooperation in United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Chief of Regional Programme Coordination and National Implementation Support at UNDRR, Chief of External Relations and Partnerships Section, and Chief of the Funding Coordination Section at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). She brings over 25 years of diverse experience, across different bodies of the UN system such as the OCHA, United Nations Development Programme and Department of Peace Keeping Operations, as well as international NGOs, at headquarters and the field, including the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, East Timor, and South East Asian countries.

Beatrice NdanuBeatrice Ndanu is a humanitarian professional with experience in design and implementation of programs on prevention of violence against women and girls for displaced persons. She has professional experience and competencies in child protection, gender-based violence prevention and protection of persons with specific needs. Ndanu is passionate about ensuring access to quality gender-based violence case-management services to survivors of violence as well as proper data collection of GBV incidences using the GBVIMS. She has over five years of experience and understanding of quality sexual and gender based violence protection among displaced urban refugees. Ndanu has a dual bachelor's degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Nairobi and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Gender and Development studies.

April PhamApril Pham is a Senior Gender Advisor and the Head of Gender Unit in the Office of the Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator at the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Pham has over 25 years of experience in social justice, human rights, gender equality, and the prevention and response to violence against women/gender-based violence in development and humanitarian settings. Prior to joining OCHA, she was a senior gender advisor for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, where she provided strategic interagency support to Humanitarian Coordinators and country teams, on matters pertaining to gender equality, empowerment, and leadership in Myanmar, Fiji/the Pacific, Ukraine, Turkey/Syria cross border, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, and at global level in Geneva Switzerland. Earlier in her career she was a youth worker, women's rights advocate in the NGO sector, and later protection officer in West Darfur for UNHCR and a gender specialist for UNIFEM (now UN Women) in Vietnam. Twitter: @MynameisApes

Devon ConeDevon Cone (Moderator) is the senior advocate for women and girls at Refugees International. Before joining RI, she served as the director of protection programs at HIAS where she was responsible for providing technical expertise to HIAS’ protection-related programming globally. She has also worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon, Uganda, Egypt, and Kenya and for a variety of NGOs providing services to refugees. As part of her work, she has developed curriculum and led trainings on refugee protection for government officials, NGO staff, and UN agencies. At the request of the State Department in 2015, Cone conducted an independent evaluation of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) which is responsible for choosing, vetting, and resettling refugees into the US. Her writing has been published in Foreign Policy, the Forced Migration Review and The Huffington Post. Twitter: @DevonCone