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Ensuring gender equality is core to effective disaster risk reduction policies

For effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, there is a growing recognition that gender-responsive and human rights-focused action is needed in policies and practice.

Dayoon Kim, Natalia Biskupska / Published on 16 December 2022

Gender equality and social inclusion are key to the success of all post-2015 multilateral agendas, including 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and all future actions on reducing climate and disaster risk.

A recent conference that brought together national disaster management agencies and development partners emphasized once again the need for gender equality and human rights for effective disaster reisk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Krishna Karkee from Women Humanitarian Disaster Risk Reduction Platform (WHDRRP) said that women are active change agents in society.

Krishna said: “WHDRRP is a platform for learning, ones that I learnt, our mothers learnt, and our grandmothers learnt in the context of disasters. So, bringing women together is very important – to gather not only our knowledge and practices but also challenges and lessons we have learnt.”

As a network of women DRR practitioners, WHDRRP works on capacity building for leadership development in DRR and CCA, research and advocacy for advancing women’s leadership, mainstreaming gender equality, disability and social inclusion into DRR and CCA policy and programs, and coordination and collaboration at different levels of government.

Danang Nizar of The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) called for greater mainstreaming of the framework at community, national, and regional levels, such as in designing risk assessments, building capacity around disaster response and preparedness, and developing risk-based land use planning guidelines, to ensure that human rights and gender equality are closely monitored and integrated in DRR.

Danang presented the Framework for Integrating Rights and Equality (FIRE), jointly developed by RWI, ADPC, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and SEI under the BRDR programme. FIRE is a guiding framework that supports the integration of human rights and gender equality aspects into DRR measures, enabling decision-makers, academia and practitioners to design and implement laws, policies and procedures and evaluate existing DRR practices through a joint human rights and gender equality lens.

SEI Asia’s Camille Pross explained how women environmental human rights defenders are often considered anti-development by the government. But in fact, they are crucial contributors to DRR since they mobilize against projects that are destructive to people and the environment and build community resilience. By highlighting the efforts of defenders in addressing the structural causes of vulnerability, Camille’s research advocates for more equitable development.

Engagement with youth will be critical to effective climate and DRR action. Ronilda Co of the Department of Education of the Republic of the Philippines highlighted how youth are a crucial actor by explaining that her department has adopted interactive disaster risk and impact assessment tools such as School Watching Application (SWApp) and Rapid Assessment of Damages Report (RADaR). These schemes ensure the active participation of youth in disaster response and risk reduction.

Mayfourth Luneta of the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) of the Philippines shared innovative DRR solutions informed by local and indigenous knowledge and experiences to reduce damage from floods such as by building levees using bamboo polls to rehabilitate the riverbanks, filter sediments and prevent floodwaters from entering farmlands.

She said: “Empowering indigenous peoples in harnessing disaster risk solutions and innovation through existing indigenous knowledge still faces various barriers in our country, like many other countries. But we are always hopeful that this situation will be changed through supporting the communities.”

Note: This piece is based on the 17th meeting of the Regional Consultative Committee on Disaster Management (RCC-17) where national disaster management agencies and development partners got together to deliberate and share good practices on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, identify actionable and inclusive solutions to address vulnerabilities, and enhance local risk governance systems in the Asian region.

This year’s RCC meeting, jointly organized by the Philippine Government’s Department of National Defense through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) on the 5 to 7 December 2022 in Manila, the Philippines, was on the theme of ‘Sustainable Resilience through Inclusive Governance, Finance, and Local Action’.

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