accessibility & help

Nazma's story: overcoming prejudice

Portrait of Nazma AkhterNazma helps disseminate information about cyclones and how to prepare for disasters. She realises that women are particularly vulnerable for many reasons. She said: “We have worked with the most vulnerable groups—particularly pregnant women and children.

"But women are also very vulnerable for a number of reasons, including their long, traditional dress and long hair.“Also, women will not go outside even when they receive information that a cyclone is coming unless their husband tells them to, and women can’t swim because they have not been allowed to learn.”

The Red Cross/Red Crescent project depends on female volunteers spreading information to other women in the community. “Women can speak freely to other women but not to other men—that is our tradition.

“Men are in an advanced position, but we are all human beings. God gave us the same number of hands and feet, the same physical strength, and we are really the same, which is why we are trying to change the situation.”

Nazma’s voluntary work has earned her respect from the community, but there are people who do not like to see women doing such work. Nazma said: “I think I am in a good position because people see the social work that I do, and they respect and listen to me. In some areas it is not like this for women.


“Some young male groups can be difficult. On one occasion when I was conducting a conflict management meeting between two people who had been fighting, a group of young men were shouting and swearing at me and trying to destroy my honour.

“It is rare, but it is horrible and it makes me feel sad. I am trying to overcome such challenges, but it happens more in communities with less education.”

Read Rani's story

More about preparing for disasters


Disaster Fund

Philippines rescue worker carrying a child

Help the Red Cross prepare for disasters. Your donation will be used to help people in crisis across the world.

Donate byCard