"Embracing diversity is also crucial to a successful career with the ICRC. You need to learn how to work with a diverse range of people and be culturally sensitive to thrive in such a diverse workplace"

Reem El-Shawa works in Gaza as a Movement Cooperation Officer. She has a BA in English Education and has been working for the ICRC in Gaza since March 2007.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am 42 years old and am married with four children. I have BA degree in English Education. Before joining the ICRC, I used to work at as volunteer at different organizations including CARE International and Public Aid Society. I am very passionate for humanitarian work and believe that it is crucial for making difference and alleviating the suffering of others.

What is your role at the ICRC?

As a Movement Cooperation officer, I am responsible for the Cooperation Department in the Gaza sub-delegation. I provide support to ICRC operational departments and coordinate closely with them, and with the operational departments of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, on aspects of conflict preparedness and response. I manage the information flow and facilitate contact between the ICRC and the National Society in Gaza. I also contribute to building relationships, trust and mutual respect between the two organizations by promoting a coherent ICRC approach to building the capacity of the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

My day-to-day work involves:

- Facilitating internal ICRC coordination and communication with the National Society branch in Gaza to ensure appropriate ICRC support to the Palestine Red Crescent Society and to scale up  ICRC support for its emergency response.

-Following up on all matters related to organizing the daily work of the Cooperation department in Gaza, including contact with the head of the sub-delegation and the heads of ICRC operational departments.

- Providing support for visits to Gaza of Movement partners, including the German Red Cross, the Italian Red Cross and the Spanish Red Cross, coordinating their activities with the ICRC and providing financial and technical support to the various programmes implemented by the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Working in the ICRC Cooperation department is rewarding because it involves building and developing relationships with others within the ICRC and with Movement partners. My work gives me the opportunity to learn from a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds, to expand my knowledge and to work towards being able to mentor or coach others.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

The most challenging aspect of my work is ensuring attention to details, particularly when supporting the decision-making of the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza relating to our partnership with the National Society. I feel that I need to draft good proposals based on institutional memory and realistic analysis.

Can you describe a memorable experience you had while working for the ICRC?

In 2014, when there was an escalation of the conflict in Gaza, I worked around the clock to follow up on the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s response and ensure adequate ICRC support. During this period, it was very difficult to strike balance between my professional and private life. While it was difficult for me to leave my family every morning to go to work, working from home was not easy, either. l remember trying to cook, clean and to comfort my children, who were afraid of the ongoing violence, while also trying to do my job. However, thanks for the support of my family and the ICRC I managed to balance my life with my work.

Do you have any advice for others who would like to follow in your footsteps and join the ICRC?

I could reel off a list of advice, but I think the most important thing is to follow your passion. No matter what you are doing at the ICRC, you should love your work and be proud to be an ICRC staff member who contributes to the organization’s mission. Embracing diversity is also crucial to a successful career with the ICRC. You need to learn how to work with a diverse range of people and be culturally sensitive to thrive in such a diverse workplace.