On the occasion of International Women’s day, we spoke to Marie Sattler, International Relations, Luxembourg Fire and Rescue Corps (CGDIS) to hear her thoughts on why equity and diversity is so important in the sector.
What is your role, and what do you do on a daily basis?
I have been responsible for the international relations of the Grand-Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps of Luxembourg (CGDIS) for the past four years. My activities are very diverse, and range from managing local and regional relations, to organising meetings on European and international level. In addition to overseeing institutional relations, I also assist international missions.
What motivated you to get involved in civil protection/disaster management?
When I was 17 years old, I made the spontaneous decision to volunteer for the local fire brigade and rescue services. I was happy to help people in need and to work together with likeminded people. Shortly after, I joined the rescue services too. At that moment, I would never have imagined the impact this decision would have on the rest of my life. Today, I can say that my initial enthusiasm has turned into a passion. After my studies, I applied for a job at the Luxembourg Fire and Rescue Corps (CGDIS), which is the national civil protection organisation. I am part of a huge civil protection family, and we all work together to minimise the risk from disasters. Disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic and the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria have shown that all actors must work together to achieve the best possible outcome.
What are the issues that matter most to you? How do you get involved with these issues as part of your role?
Given that Luxembourg is a small country, I get the opportunity to witness the benefits of all our cooperation. Be it at local or regional level, collaboration is the key to success. One of our main objectives for the future is to reduce the impact of the national borders for the firefighters and rescue services as much as possible. We want to ensure that no matter where you are in the greater region, you can get the quickest and best possible assistance in an emergency. We are working constantly to achieve this goal.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. Do you think the European Union civil protection/disaster management system can help achieve this? If yes, how?
It is not always easy to work as a woman in a male-dominated field. Unfortunately, I have encountered some unacceptable incidents. However, I also know that these were individual cases, and that fortunately, the mentality of a large part of the population is changing. This change takes time and it requires effort from everyone, men and women, to work towards better gender equality.
How might it evolve to better achieve this?
I think that the European civil protection system can help to raise awareness for this subject via campaigns, for instance. However, it is more important to set a good example by demonstrating that neither gender nor any other external characteristic is a factor that will prevent you from being a valuable part of the civil protection family.
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