The Innosocium Foundation and the Council of the Eurasian Women's Forum under the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation held the session ‘Women at the Forefront of Humanitarian Aid’ at the Building Trust Area

An enormous number of people around the world need humanitarian aid today. Many public and private organizations are involved in helping those in need, in charity, and in developing a volunteer movement. Women have traditionally taken an active position in this area: studies show that women make up about 75% of the employees of non-profit organizations. Some of the most pressing issues of modern life are being addressed at the Building Trust Area as part of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum. The session ‘Women at the Forefront of Humanitarian Aid’ is dedicated to women’s role in shaping and developing the global system of humanitarian aid.

Speakers at the session included Mavila Vanessa, Founding President of the Eboko Foundation; Slauzy Zodwa Mogami, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairperson of Ladies in the Frontline; Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda in the Russian Federation; Ukeme Utuk, CEO of the Reachout and Smile Initiative for Social Empowerment, and Moscow student Valeria Valyaeva.

The session was moderated by Veronika Peshkova, President of the Foundation for the Development of Public Diplomacy Women's Perspective and a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), who noted that humanitarian aid is not only about providing food, items, and housing. “It’s also educational aid and helping to overcome crisis situations. And women's associations are very often the ones that find themselves at the forefront of humanitarian activities. In the modern world, women’s initiatives are gaining momentum and in the social sphere in no small part”.

Women are capable of solving issues at any level if they are allowed to take decisions. Vanessa Mavila, Founding President of the Eboko Foundation, noted that all women are concerned about the safety of their family and children. “It is crucial to have a sense that we are not afraid of the future, that we can develop normally, and can ensure the future of our children”, she said. “My organisation has brought together many African women so that they can fight the scourge that exists in Africa – a lack of security. We fight for peace and educate our children so that we can live in good relations in society in the future”.

The discussion participants noted that women, who control about 80% of global consumption, are generally not allowed to make strategic decisions. Yet the humanitarian sector is one of the most “friendly” to women in this sense today. Women’s issues hold an important place on the agenda of all major international associations, and women’s empowerment is a priority. The development of women’s initiatives will contribute to the sustainable development and equalization of opportunities. What is being done today will become the foundation for the lives of future generations, particularly since young people are taking an active life position today and consider equal opportunities for all to be a prerequisite for development.

The session was attended by sixteen-year-old Moscow student Valeriya Valyaeva, an activist with a working group at the Innosocium Foundation. “Our young people seek to change the world. They are motivated to help those in need. And we advocate for the equal rights of men and women, among other things. My peers all over the world are joining together to have an impact on improvements in the public’s quality of life through our joint efforts. And it’s good that this movement is supported by adult organisations”, Valyaeva said.


Educational and humanitarian projects that attract young people are impacting the society in which we will live in the future. As the speakers noted, women are largely the ones who shape the conscious of their children. So women are shaping the mentality of future generations by expanding the boundaries of their capabilities.

“It’s hard to overestimate the role of women in humanitarian aid projects. Women are often the first to come to the rescue and can be agents of global change”, said Elena Marinina, Deputy CEO of the Roscongress Foundation and Director of the Innosocium Foundation. “Women are the ones who shape the humanitarian aid system at the local levels and are the driving force behind charity, which is gradually changing the global picture for the better”.

The Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum are being held on 23–24 October at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi. The Roscongress Foundation is the event organizer, and the co-organizers of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum are Russian Export Center and Afreximbank.

The Building Trust Area programme was prepared by the Innosocium Foundation – the social platform of the Roscongress Foundation.

To participants in the Russia–Africa Economic Forum

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you at the opening of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.

The rich history of relations between Africa and Russia has never seen an event of a similar scale. Members of government agencies and business community, and experts are meeting at this Forum to substantively discuss the current status and prospects of cooperation and a wide range of topical issues of the world economy.

Today, the countries of Africa are well on their way towards social, economic, scientific and technological development, and are playing a significant role in international affairs. They are strengthening mutually beneficial integration processes within the African Union and other regional and sub regional organizations across the continent.

In recent years, the traditionally friendly ties of partnership between Russia and Africa have gained new momentum, both at a bilateral level and in various multilateral formats. In addition to preserving our past experience of successful cooperation, we have also managed to make significant new steps forward. Trade and investment are growing dynamically, and new joint projects are under way in extractive industries, agriculture, healthcare, and education. Russian companies are ready to offer their scientific and technological developments to their African partners, and share their experience of upgrading energy, transport and communications infrastructures.

I hope that the Forum will help identify new areas and forms of cooperation, put forward promising joint initiatives that will bring the collaboration between Russia and Africa to a qualitatively new level and contribute to the development of our economies and the prosperity of our peoples.

I wish the Forum’s participants fruitful work and all the best.

Vladimir Putin

The Russia–Africa Summit, which is taking place in Sochi on 23–24 October 2019, encapsulates the historically friendly relations between the African continent and the Russian Federation. This Summit carries great significance as it is the first of its kind to emerge during a period of major global and international transformations. In response to the aspirations of the people it is representing, the Summit intends to build a comprehensive framework for expanding Russian–African relations into broader horizons of joint cooperation across different fields.

The African nations and Russia share a common understanding of international relations, based on the principles of respect for the rule of international law, equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Both sides affirm their commitment to support multilateral actions to oppose new international threats, be they terrorism and extremism in all their forms, or declining growth rates. The two sides share a firm conviction regarding the importance of developing trade flows and supporting mutual investment in such a way as to ensure security, peace and development for the African and Russian people.

African countries have huge potential and opportunities that will allow them, once efforts to streamline their economies have been achieved, to emerge as real global players. In recent years, the nations of this continent have achieved major successes spanning the political, economic, social and administrative spheres. Africa has flourished in terms of growth over the past decade, reaching a continent-wide growth rate of 3.55% in 2018.

The African Union Summit, which was held in Niger in July 2019, continued the efforts of the African countries and saw the African Continental Free Trade Agreement come into force, along with its operational instruments. The agreement is one of the key objectives of Agenda 2063, an African development strategy that has been created to address the African people’s desire for prosperity and decent living standards.

These successes are opening up wide-ranging prospects for cooperation between African countries and the Russian Federation, and confirm the determination of African governments and their people to cooperate with multiple partners in order to establish mutually beneficial relations.

With this in mind, we express our hopes that the Russia–Africa Summit will help in the establishment of constructive strategic relations, based on partnership between two sides across various fields, and in the service of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the African people and their friends in Russia.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Abdelfattah ALSISI