The vital role of women in reducing the risk of disasters is being highlighted in a regional conference that opened yesterday in Hà Nội.
During the three-day “Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction” conference, about 70 government officials, non-governmental organisations, researchers from 22 countries - plus, 200 representatives from government, inter-governmental organisations, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and civil society in Việt Nam - gathered to call for urgent action to promote gender equality in disaster risk reduction programmes and policies.
Experts at the conference agree that Asia-Pacific is the most world’s vulnerable region, with seven of the world’s 15 most at risk countries. So the Asia-Pacific is particularly susceptible to the growing impacts of climate change.
Whilst disasters do not discriminate, their impacts affect men and women differently. Globally, women and children are 14 times more likely to die or be injured during a disaster than men.
Speaking at the conference, Cao Đức Phát, the Minister of Việt Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Head of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention Control, said that although women often faced more severe impacts, they also hold the key to minimise disaster-related risks.
“Experience in Việt Nam shows that women are the first people to prepare for disaster response activities in their families and also for community resilience,” he said.
As a co-organiser of the conference, together with UN Women and the Government of Japan, Việt Nam is calling on other countries to jointly implement gender-responsive disaster risk reduction priorities in the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction, he said.
Roberta Clarke, the UN Women Regional Director, said "Women in Asia and the Pacific are able and capable. They are a key lynchpin for addressing disaster risks and for building resilience within themselves and in their communities. As we implement our regional, national and local disaster risk reduction priorities, we should provide them the space to lead, to make their voices heard, and to have their priorities addressed," she said.
Experts at the conference will discuss urgent measures to promote gender equality and to promote women’s leadership through four priorities of the Sendai Framework for Action, including: understanding disaster risks, strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risks, investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience, and enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
They will also discuss the links between disasters and climate change, how climate change action can contribute to addressing disaster risk reduction challenges, and promoting women’s leadership and participation.
The conference will conclude with endorsement of the Recommendations and Actions on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction Priorities for the Asia-Pacific region. The conference’s recommendations will be introduced to relevant national and regional processes for the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30.
The Sendai Framework for Action in 2015-30 was adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan in March 2015. One year after the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, all countries in Asia and the Pacific region are developing national action plans to implement the Sendai Framework. — VNS