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Vera Karikari Bediako

Meet Vera Karikari Bediako, the Principal Programme Officer at the Department of Gender, Government of Ghana.

31 October 2022

Vera Karikari Bediako

Programme Officer, Department of Gender, Ghana

Vera Karikari Bediako is the Principal Programme Officer at the Department of Gender, in the Ghana Government's Ministry of Gender, Children And Social Protection in Accra. We asked her about the vital role women's leadership has in effective disaster risk reduction.

What is your role in building disaster risk resilience?

The Department of Gender is responsible for ensuring that gender is mainstreamed into all actions on disaster risk reduction. This involves integrating men, women and the vulnerable in addressing the underlying risk drivers, lessening the impacts of climate change, and contributing to sustainable development. Women's leadership is vital to ensuring the sustainability of DRR interventions. It is always important to apply a gender lens in the formulation of policies and projects to give an enabling environment for women to participate.

How can women’s leadership reduce vulnerability?

Women should be part of the decision making process and lead interventions in DRR to reap the results which are sustainable and beneficial to all. Women should not be seen only as beneficiaries of services, but as key agents of change in shaping and building climate resilience.

Due to the gender dimensions of disaster risk, women and girls face greater vulnerability and exposure which remains untapped, and we need to work around this to ensure that women play a very key role when it comes to indigenous knowledge sharing. As first responders in disaster risk reduction, Women's leadership empowers them to be able to adapt to climate and disaster risk reduction, and be active communicators in disaster management.

What barriers do women face in the disaster risk reduction field?

Women are faced with gender and poverty related barriers that often undermine opportunities for them to be leaders in DRR. Patriarchal attitudes and gender norms define the roles of women in society, restricting their mobility, access to decision making fora, and economic participation; all of which impacts access to lead DRR initiatives. The burden of women's unpaid work is also a significant barrier to women becoming active participants and leaders in DRR and resilience building.

The limited number of female role models for the younger generation to look up to is also a great challenge. In accelerating progress in women's leadership, there is the need for policies that consider the experiences and needs of those who are mostly affected by the impacts of climate change and disasters, particularly rural women and girls. In addition, women's capacities need to be built to effectively participate in disaster risk reduction interventions.

How can we increase women’s leadership in disaster risk reduction?

Women leaders have to build their capacities to be able to show best practices, which can foster coherence between financing and public investments related to climate change and DRR, while promoting gender equality and women's leadership.

Also, there is a need to build more resilient and equitable economies by investing in inclusive and gender responsive climate change and disaster risk reduction programming, plans, and policies. Some challenges that the rural and Indigenous girls and women face daily, particularly in relation to land rights and protection, must also be addressed.