May 24 2016 0comment
UN

WOMEN IN DISASTER RESPONSE

“A gender, age, disability and cultural perspective should be integrated in all policies and practices, and women and youth leadership should be promoted.”

                      The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015–2030) Guiding Principles

Disasters have different impacts on women, men and children. However it has long been considered that women are the ones who are affected from disasters most. In the Nepal Earthquake that hit last year, there were a total of 8,780 deaths as of 11th June 2015, out of which 55% are female victims.1

In the “Women and Disaster Relief” fact sheet published by Humanitarian Coalition2,  women and children are particularly affected by disasters, accounting for more than 75% of displaced persons.

Besed on some statistics like mentioned above and due to some socio-economic situations, lack of education, cultural beliefs etc., women has been seen as vulnerable and passive in post-disaster conditions.

However;  as noted in UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 14-18 March 20153, the constructive role of women in disaster risk reduction and post disaster management should be underlined and strengthened. Unfortunatelly, the participation of women in the planning, designing, implementing and monitoring emergency programs and rehabilitation projects is still on a low key profile4. If unequality dominates  in a place where disaster occured, this can result in unequal acces to resources, and even to more damaging results such as sexual abuse or discriminative or health problems. Therefore, the integration of women into planning & implementation phases of  disaster response in both local & state level means collective empowerment containing not only women themselves, but also children and men, i.e. all society. This collective empowerment, in the long term, pave way to reduce harms in possible future disasters such as loss of control in assets, intengible as well as material losses.

There are many examples of women leadership and participation in disaster risk reduction and disaster management which led positive results for them. One of these examples is women initiative in Vietnam who see the impacts of climate change and  who make efforts to reduce the future effects. An Dung commune women, located in Binh Dinh province in Vietnam, cooperated with UN Women and they attended trainings in disaster management as well as national lobbying. The problem in this region regarding disasters is that the place carries high risks of flooding and it has only one road which connects other communities and landside. These situations make the region very vulnarable. These efforts, including trainings like swimming, Rescue and First Aid that led by women empowered the whole community.

What can be done?

UN, some other international organizations as well Non-governmental Organizations have long been working on strentghening the role of women in disaster preparadness and management.  They provide various solutions for implementing this, but the common highlightened point is ‘trainings’. This includes various capacity building education and training programmes related information collection as well as distribution, planning and implementation of basic services for women and children, gaining role in formal economy as well as rehabilitation activities or trainings about basic construction techniques which will make them self-confident. Moreover, guidence that provide transfer of knowledge and engagement of them are other inter-related points. For example, as CARE International intent to implement guidence notes in 2016, women may be guided and empowered through shelter projects which will adress the needs of different genders seperately5.

Overall, integration of women into the disaster management carries a great importance. They are, as  important agents of change, should have more roles in planning and implementation phases; and the trainings, with corporation of different bodies, will be important parts of a solution for strengthening of women.

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