Why gender equality and social inclusion is important for disaster preparedness?
Disasters or emergencies do not affect everyone in the same way. In every humanitarian crisis, we know that women and girls are affected differently than men and boys, and that vulnerabilities are often exacerbated by other factors such as age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, caste, ethnicity or religion.
Pre-existing societal structures, social norms, discriminatory and harmful practices as well as gender roles create or contribute to heightened risks for some members of the community such as children, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, people living with HIV/AIDS, adolescent girls, single women, members of female headed households, pregnant women and lactating mothers, senior citizens, Dalit women, women from religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous women.
Gender inequalities and discrimination can also undermine the ability of women, girls and gender minorities to fully participate in or lead preparedness efforts. It can also block their access to basic services, information, economic livelihoods and meaningful representation in planning and decision making. Further, they are often at increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
It is crucial to take into consideration multiple forms of discrimination that particular individuals may be subjected to, in order to recognize their different and specific needs, capacities and priorities. This understanding should be integrated throughout the preparedness cycle. The active participation and leadership of women and girls and other excluded and vulnerable groups in humanitarian decisions should be facilitated and thereby promoting transformative individual and societal change.
To be most effective, disaster preparedness plans must be developed with, agreed to, and understood by everyone.
Gender equality and social inclusion perspectives should be incorporated into all preparedness activities, including gender balance and diversity in stakeholders’ meetings, emergency simulations, and training of staff on gender equality and social inclusion in humanitarian action.