Parenting Month Panel: Supporting Parents in Crisis and Humanitarian Contexts

Event Details

This Parenting Month, the global community is calling for accessible parenting support for every family. The Global Parenting Initiative and the Global Initiative to Support Parents (GISP)* is convening implementers, researchers, policymakers and donors to catalyse and scale parenting support through collective action. To mark World Refugee Day and Parenting Month, we are hosting a Special Panel Discussion exploring the current state of parenting support in crisis, ongoing efforts to deliver parenting interventions, and recommendations for the provision of this support.

All parents and primary caregivers can benefit from evidence-based parenting support, but the urgency and needs are considerably elevated for families living through crisis and conflict. Globally, an estimated 268 million children and adolescents across 73 countries are affected by crises (ECW 2023), impacting their development, and putting them at greater risk of violence, exploitation and neglect. With the upwards trend in incidents of natural disasters, health emergencies, and armed conflicts over the past few years, these numbers are only set to rise. In these contexts, parents must strive to provide nurturing care to their children while simultaneously managing their own mental health and well-being, seeking access to essential services, and coping with increased threats and risk factors. Yet despite the enormity of the challenge, the role of parents as essential caregivers and protective buffers for children remains largely overlooked in humanitarian response.

Join us as we delve into the ins-and-outs of providing parenting support to families in emergency and humanitarian contexts.

Participants will learn about:

  • Current evidence and research gaps on the provision of parenting support in crisis contexts
  • Existing programme models serving parents and caregivers in different settings, challenges and successes in implementation, and recommendations for future work.
  • Resources for promoting caregiver mental health and psychosocial well-being

Speaking on the evidence behind and importance of this support will be experts from Parenting for Lifelong Health, Global Parenting Initiative, UNICEF, WHO, Early Childhood Development Action Network, and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. Sitting on our panel exploring the technicalities, challenges, successes and recommendations for providing parenting support in emergencies are representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Rescue Committee, War Child Holland and Karachi Relief Trust,  organisations supporting parents on the ground in some of the most challenging humanitarian settings around the world.

We look forward to seeing you there! 

*The GISP is a partnership of ECDAN, the Global Partnership to End Violence, Parenting for Lifelong Health, UNICEF and WHO.


This event has passed. Please watch the recording online.


You can access the slides for this event here.






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Sabine Rakotomalala | World Health Organization, Global Initiative to Support Parents

Sabine Rakotomalala works in the Violence Prevention Unit, within the Department for the Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Her responsibilities include bringing together key partners from different sectors around the prevention of violence against children; providing technical support to countries in their efforts to scale up violence prevention initiatives; and conducting advocacy with policy makers and donors in the field of violence prevention.

With an academic background in Child Psychology, she has over two decades of professional experience in the fields of child protection and psychosocial support in both humanitarian and development settings. She has worked with Terre des hommes, UNICEF and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and led key initiatives such as the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network, the development of the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action and the development and implementation of the INSPIRE: Seven strategies for ending violence against children technical package.

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Dr Isang Awah | Global Parenting Initiative, Parenting for Lifelong Health

Dr Isang Awah is the Head of Advocacy at the Global Parenting Initiative, based at the University of Oxford’s Department of Social Policy and Intervention. Her research interests include social issues and literacy, especially in the Global South, and she is dedicated to improving outcomes for children and young people.

In the past few years, she worked on the development and testing of ParentApp for Teens, an open-source, mobile application parenting intervention that is based on the Parenting for Lifelong Health Teens programme. Additionally, she led the dissemination of the COVID-19 parenting resources in West and Central Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As founder of MyRainbowBooks Limited, Isang introduced personalised storybooks in Nigeria that are tailored for African children and also initiated the nationwide annual creative writing competition for children in Nigeria. Isang holds a PhD in Education from the University of Cambridge, U.K. She also holds degrees from Harvard University, U.S.A., and the University of Uyo, Nigeria.

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Mari Ullman | Global Initiative to Support Parents

Mari Ullmann has more than 15 years of experience in international and domestic programming, policy, and advocacy focusing on early childhood development, education, and parenting in crisis contexts and displacement. She recently joined the Global Initiative to Support Parents (GISP) as Technical Advisor for Parenting in Crisis. Previous roles include serving as ECD in Emergencies Specialist at UNICEF headquarters in New York, and leading the Secretariat of the Moving Minds Alliance, a funders collaborative and network convened to elevate the needs of the youngest children and their caregivers in humanitarian response. Mari holds an M.A. in International Education from New York University, and a B.A. in Anthropology from McGill University. She is of Puerto Rican descent and is based in in Brooklyn, New York.

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Dr Caoimhe Nic a Bháird |UNICEF

Dr Caoimhe Nic a Bháird is an MHPSS and Child Protection in Emergencies Advisor based at UNICEF Headquarters. Her work focuses on developing guidance and tools to improve the effectiveness of MHPSS for children and families, as well as providing technical support to UNICEF’s regional and country offices as they respond to humanitarian crises. Prior to her work in humanitarian emergencies, she was an academic researcher at University College London. She has a BA in Psychology, an MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology, and a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health.

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Rebecca Smith |Save the Children International

Rebecca Smith has been working for Save the Children for the past 12 years and is currently the Global Head of Child Protection Programmes. She supports best practices in programming and is particularly focused on strengthening the social welfare workforce, building evidence and rights based parenting programmes, and strengthening community-led approaches to child protection concerns. She is currently on the steering committee for the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, and co-lead of the Policy and Advocacy Group of Transforming Children’s Care. Prior to joining Save the Children, Rebecca worked for the International Rescue Committee for five years, being based in Darfur for two and a half years and being deployed to humanitarian emergencies all over the world, including places like Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and setting up family tracing and reunification in Haiti immediately following the 2010 earthquake. Rebecca has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Columbia University and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia.


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Panel Moderator

Genevieve Haupt Ronnie | Global Parenting Initiative, University of Cape Town

Genevieve Haupt Ronnie is the Community of Practice Lead with the GPI. She is also the Country Lead for qualitative data collection for the Scale-Up of Parenting Evaluation Research (SUPER) study. She is a Junior Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) at the University of Cape Town. She has a keen interest in all aspects of equality and how it affects services and rights for all, especially young people. Before joining CSSR, she worked as a Researcher and Project Manager at the Center for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at UCT, on a number of collaborative research studies investigating personal mobile devices use in teaching and learning. Prior to this, Genevieve worked in the Education and Skills Development Unit at the Human Sciences Research Council from 2009-2015 as a Junior Researcher in the areas of social justice and inequalities in the broader realm of education. She holds a Master's degree in Research Psychology from the University of the Western Cape.

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Yvonne Agengo | International Rescue Committee

Yvonne Agengo is a Child Protection Senior Technical Advisor at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Yvonne has been working in the humanitarian sector for over 14 years and in the Protection and specifically child protection sector. She has mainly worked in East Africa, Central Africa and Middle East. In her role and career, she has been working directly with country teams to support design, development and implementation of programs to prevent and respond to violence and abuse against children in humanitarian settings.

Dr Aala El-Khani | United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Dr Aala El-Khani is a humanitarian psychologist working as a consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. She is also an honorary Research Associate at the University of Manchester, the Division of Psychology and Mental Health. Aala is passionate about highlighting the significant role that caregivers play in protecting their children during humanitarian contexts and high stress contexts. Aala researches and develops innovative ways to reach families that have experienced crisis, conflict and displacement with parenting support and training. She is a developer of numerous family skills resources, as well as a global trainer of family skills programmes and research methods, having conducted training in over 25 countries. Her two TED talks have been viewed over 1.5 million times.

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Anthony Guevara | War Child Holland

Anthony Guevara has over five years of experience working in research and monitoring & evaluation activities in conflict-affected settings. Having previously worked on WASH and child protection topics, in recent years he has been working as a researcher at the Research & Development Department at War Child, focusing on a variety of MHPSS interventions and approaches, including the BeThere caregiver support intervention (developed by WC), and the Ensuring Quality in Psychological Support (EQUIP) platform and the MHPSS Minimum Services Package, both together with UNICEF and WHO.

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Khayam Husain | Karachi Relief Trust

Khayam has a business degree from the University of Houston and an MBA from Pepperdine University, California. He started his career as Market Training Manager with PepsiCo in their food service division in California. After returning to Pakistan he has led Autocom to become Pakistan’s largest manufacturer of semi-trailers and specialized vehicles. On the non-profit side, Khayam is the co-founder and trustee of Karachi Relief Trust (KRT). KRT works in relief and rehabilitation of disaster hit communities. Last year KRT distributed rations, tents, medical aid and launched the "School-in-a-Box" program for flood affected children. The program included dissemination of Parenting Tips in collaboration with University of Oxford. Since the 2022 flood, KRT is on course to build 500 "smart villages" with permanent homes and other value additions. Khayam also serves on the board of NOWPDP (helping people with disabilities), Charter for Compassion and was previous Chairman of Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan (PILAP).