Strong Angel III – 18th August 2006

I am living in two time zones, 13 hours apart.

Managed to put a brave face for breakfast to meet so many of those with whom I had long and rich conversation with over Groove and email, but had never met in real life. Eric Rasmussen, Nigel Snoad, Robert Kirkpatrick – all geeks with hearts with a measure of humility that only comes from a vast experience with the complex and often incredibly frustrating, thankless world of humanitarian aid.

I’m happy that through Microsoft Humanitarian Systems (for whom I wrote an unsolicited vision statement a while ago) there will be, in this Strong Angel, an emphasis on peacebuilding and conflict resolution as an area distinct from humanitarian aid.

Because the simulation will rely on Groove for some of its communications, and because I’m not entirely certain that Groove will run nicely on Parallels which I’ve already installed on my Mac, I’ve decided to go ahead and install Bootcamp 1.1 beta and purchase what will be my first legit copy of Windows XP SP2! Installing Bootcamp looks dead simple and I’m looking forward to seeing how well the MacBook Pro performs under a Windows environment.

SA III has an extremely impressive line-up of people spearheading its operations. What I noticed however was that in all the objectives of SA III there is, at least in what’s stated, a distinct lack of emphasis on gender mainstreaming. As a statement by Ms. Carolyn McAskie, Acting Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recognises, humanitarian assistance can only be effective if it is gender-sensitive:

While both men and women are affected by conflict, crisis situations have a differentiated impact on them. Conflict and war are not gender neutral. Thus, eighty percent of the internally displaced persons and refugees around the world are women and children. Women are in flight, adapting to life in camps, or are directly caught up in the midst of conflict. In many cases, women and teenage girls in conflict zones are the sole providers and protectors for their families, since most men have either been killed or are away on combat duty. This situation leads to a shift in gender roles with a dramatic increase in the number of women heads of households.

There are some very useful resources in this regard here, and it will be interesting to see how in the days ahead an emphasis on gender grows, not just in terms of numerical representation in decision making bodies, but in terms of a practice that mainstreams gender considerations in all aspects of SA III.

San Diego‘s a great place – the weather is delicous and in the distance a behemoth American aircraft carrier docked in the harbour reminds us that the world writ large is far more chaotic than the controlled chaos in SA III and brings a necessary measure of humility to our work.

I’m looking forward tremendously to the days ahead.

Now if only there was a quick cure for dramatic changes in time zones, that helps me to sleep instead of typing this entry at 3am.

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