On International Women’s Day, celebrated every year on 8 March, PAHO’s Area on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief recognizes the fundamental role of women in risk reduction, both in prevention and response, as well as in the recovery activities.
Today, more than ever, it is necessary to stop viewing women as the passive victims of disasters. It is very important to highlight their valuable participation in risk reduction, integrating the gender perspective in all policies, plans and decision-making processes related to disaster risk management.
It is recognized that disasters have different impacts on the quality of life of women and men of different ages and ethnic groups. Considering this, the plans for preparedness, mitigation and response to disasters should consider not only the specific needs, but also the potential contributions of women and men. A gender focus in the study and analysis of disasters is essential to reach the goal of having safer and more resilient communities.
The United Nations Security Council recognizes that humanitarian crises increase the risk to women to HIV, sexual violence and gender-based violence, and that Member States must implement positive actions to protect and empower women and girls to prevent these situations in the context of humanitarian assistance.
The region of Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable to disasters caused by natural hazards, a tendency that is increasing. Women are a fundamental part of the solution and they have both the right and the duty to take part in disaster risk management in their communities and nations, as well as in preparedness, action and recovery from disasters. They should also be considered in the consultation processes for decision making as well as in the creation of public policies for risk management.
An active and proactive role of women is fundamental, not only to advance in the development of people, but also in the strengthening of human rights.