Consultees asserted that the people most impacted by disasters are often the least represented and can be excluded in disaster risk reduction and resilience decision-making roles.
In the words of one youth champion, “Women and girls have been systematically excluded from decision-making” (Yosan Sahlu, climate activist, Ethiopia).
Experts called for a “paradigm shift from women as victims of disasters to active agents of change” (Dr. Rijanti Djalante, ASEAN Secretariat, Indonesia) and confirmed that “women should not be seen as beneficiaries of services and support but as key actors in shaping and building climate resilience” (La Fleur Quammie, UN, Barbados).
As one community member from Fiji noted, “cyclones are getting stronger and women have a big role to play in rebuilding homes and communities” (Ateca Siga, Fiji).
Consultees highlighted the benefits of “working with women leaders at all levels” (Dr. Djalante) including addressing the needs of all people and “ensuring inclusivity and specialised services for vulnerable people in communities” (La Fleur Quammie).
The first women director of a national disaster management office - Ms. Vasiti Soko (Fiji) - stressed the importance of “always applying a gender lens for policies and projects to give an enabling environment for women to participate.”
Ms. Soko advocates for women to “take a risk, come out of your comfort zone in leading this different field we are in” and notes that “although I am the first women to hold the position of Director of NDMO, I should not be the last.“
Moving forward, it was confirmed that action is needed to empower women’s meaningful participation and the leadership of women in all their diversity including “LGBTIQ+, the elderly, women with disabilities, and girls” (Jamie Saunders, DED, Directorate of Gender Affairs) in order to reduce vulnerability and build resilience to disaster and climate risks for those too often left behind.