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Motivating and supporting women’s role in civil protection

22 March 2012

Press release:

30 female and male Civil Protection Officers from Algeria, France, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Portugal, Slovenia and Tunisia will participate in the roundtable on Women’s Added Value in Civil Protection, organised by the EU-funded PPRD South Programme on 26 March in Algiers, to exchange ideas and proposals on how to strengthen women’s role in the Mediterranean Civil Protection Authorities.

“The integration of women in the Civil Protection is a necessity - Colonel Mustapha El Habiri, Algerian Civil Protection Director General underlined when accepting to organise the roundtable in Algeria. “Women’s attitudes in many fields, such as assistance, sanitary services, training and intervention are beneficial as they better understand gender expectations when dealing with the population. Moreover, women are very motivated and generally they accomplish their tasks with a surprising determination”, he added.

In the Mediterranean, civil protection is traditionally considered mostly a male sector, but the recent shift of disaster risk management from response to prevention and preparedness and greater attention to educate families, as the first responders in the risk management, have opened the way to a major involvement of women in the design and implementation of civil protection measures at all levels. However, women’s involvement remains still low and is mostly addressed to relief works.

It is being recognized today that civil protection cannot do without women, that women’s approach, skills and knowledge are more and more necessary to extend the domain of action and the effectiveness of a modern civil protection system. Putting all this into practice is one of the main challenges posed to the Mediterranean Civil Protection Authorities.

The event in Algiers which will be opened by Laura Baeza, Head of EU-Delegation to Algeria together with Col. Mustapha El Habiri from the Algerian Civil Protection is a good opportunity to exchange views between women and men working in the North and South of the Mediterranean civil protection authorities and discuss women’s actual and potential contribution to disaster risk management activities and on the progress made so far.

During the day, a video message from Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Response, will be shown. Constructive statements from the participating countries will be presented and discussed, such as the story of the growing involvement of Moroccan women in the national civil protection sector from 1997 when the first Moroccan woman became civil protection officer to nowadays with women working not only as doctors, engineers, teachers or nurses but also as officers and agents in the operational teams. Another story of women that are able to develop innovative and dynamic practices for Disaster Risk Reduction as reported by UNISDR in the study “The Role of Women as a Factor of Social and Behavioral Change” will also be discussed. The Palestinian women involvement in Civil Protection will show how rapid progress in this sector can be if we decide to make it happen. Palestinian women entered in the ranks of civil protection in 2008 and are now mostly in charge of safety and prevention activities, namely: checking technical equipment, providing training and guidance in factories, workshops, schools and among housewives. Finally, the story of Algerian women who first joined the National Civil Protection in the nineties and are now a backbone of the institution as demonstrated by the very high rate of participation of Algerian women to the PPRD South initiatives will also be reviewed at the roundtable.

For more information, please contact: Alessandro Candeloro, +39 349 0850931, info@euromedcp.eu

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