By Camilla Schramek
Today, on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the closing of the Africa-Arab Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, it is vital to bring the most vulnerable into the spotlight: women and girls. The impacts of disaster and climate change discriminate: women, men, girls and boys are all affected differently. It is women and girls who are more likely to suffer due to existing inequalities, vulnerabilities and negative gender norms which lead to higher rates of mortality, morbidity and economic damage to their livelihoods. It is imperative that disaster risk reduction and management strategies are gender-responsive and consider gender-based vulnerabilities.
“As we celebrate this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, there is a need for deliberate efforts to move from policy to practice. We cannot ignore the differentiated impacts of disaster on women, girls, men and boys. Our responses must be better informed by sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data, gender analysis and active community engagement for accurate and effective disaster risk reduction and resilience building interventions," says Zebib Kavuma, Director, UN Women Kenya.
While women and girls are suffering disproportionately, they also bring unique experiences and skills to disaster risk reduction and climate change as active agents of change. It is essential to recognize women’s contributions to disaster risk reduction and their leadership as first responders; their central role in community resilience is largely untapped in disaster risk reduction, climate change and resilience-building strategies.
“By integrating women into the centre of policymaking, we ensure that half of the population is given a seat at the table, leaving no one behind. Major improvements in the access to climate and disaster risk reduction political spaces for women need to occur at all levels to demonstrate that gender is not only a buzzword but that it has genuinely transformed the role of women in the policy debate,” says Martin Secaira, CARE Nederland’s Global Policy lead on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, Partners for Resilience.