Women and Men: the Equal Rights Holders in Disaster Risk Reduction Actions
Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015-2030 is the sacred document for the global community on reducing the damage caused by natural hazards.Adopted in March 2015 at Sendai prefecture of Japan through unprecedented consultation at the global level in 2/3 years leading upto 2015. The precursor of Sendai framework(SFDRR) was Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) which had gender aspects integrated. However, the implementation reports from various regions showed very poor performance on this area. So Sendai framework has flagged the gender issue more strongly. The document declared flatly and squarely that without addressing gender aspects sustainable DRR is impossible.
In light of the Sendai framework for DRR and changing contexts of the post-2015 development agenda, UN Women and Government of Viet Nam, in collaboration with United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and UNDP, organized a Regional Asia-Pacific Conference on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction in May 2016. The aim was to discuss how gender equality and women's participation can be integrated into the targets, indicators and actions of Sendai framework while developing the implementation plans at regional, national and local levels. The conference concluded with the following recommendations for gendered DRR actions:
In priority 1 area of SFDRR,'understanding disaster risk' there are three recommendations regarding sex, age and disability disaggregated data (SADDD). It emphasizes socio-economic baseline to inform gender responsive DRR, and monitor the progress in building resilience of women, men, girls and boys. It also urges establishing composite mechanisms and building capacities across sectors for collecting, analysing, managing, using, and sharing SADDD, while setting up gender responsive indicators.
In priority 2,'strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk' two recommendations have been put forward. First one is about strengthening legal and institutional frameworks for DRR so that they are gender responsive and inclusive; ensure safety and protection of women and girls from gender-based violence. The second recommendation is focused on investing in developing women's and girls' leadership capacity for their active and substantive role in DRR at all levels and across all sectors.
For priority 3, 'investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience' there have been three recommendations. First one is on women's sustainable and empowering livelihoods that builds resilience including gender-responsive services that enable diverse groups of women to access and benefit from these livelihoods. The second recommendation is about social protection and social services that reduce gender inequality. Third recommendation focuses on public and private infrastructure that meets the priorities of diverse groups of women without increasing their risks while meeting universal design standards, and is resilient to potential hazards.
The fourth priority,'enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to Build Back Better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction' there are again three recommendations centering around inclusive and accessible education and awareness raising on gender roles, rights and capacities amongst women and men to contribute to the DRR cycle. The second one focuses on implementing women led security and protection interventions. Final one recommends institutionalising leadership of women and diverse groups in disaster preparedness (including inclusive and accessible early warning system) response, recovery and reconstruction at all levels.
Thus, the issue of SADDD, women's capacity building, leadership, livelihoods and empowerment have been highlighted in the Ha Noi declaration. It clearly spells out that women are not another vulnerable group. They are equal rights holders. DRR interventions must consider the differential impacts of disasters on men and women, and differential vulnerabilities and capacities of men and women in the context of disasters. Without that whatever we do for DRR, it would be for the smaller section of the most disaster vulnerable people, the men, while further entrenching women's disaster vulnerability.
The writer works at UN Women.