By Brigitte Leoni
GENEVA, 8 March 2016 - “Women play an important role in advancing disaster risk reduction policies and we want to see more of them engaged in disaster management,” Mr. Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said today, as the world marks International Women’s Day.
“Empowering women in disaster risk reduction as the Sendai Framework rightly stresses, will help curb disaster losses in the future,” added Mr. Glasser, who heads the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
The Sendai Framework Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction - a 15-year international blueprint adopted in March last year with the aim of saving lives and reducing the economic impact of natural and man-made hazards - encourages more women to participate in disaster planning and management to make communities more resilient.
“Women are too often portrayed as victims as they are more affected by disasters than any other group, but they have proved to be real game changers if they are included in decision making on disaster risk reduction and response,” said Mr. Glasser.
Philippines Senator Ms. Loren Legarda, a tireless campaigner who was recently appointed as UNISDR first global champion for resilience , also called for more women to be engaged in disaster resilience and climate change adaptation efforts.
“We must invest in women, make them part of decision-making, as their development role is crucial in adapting to climate change and building community resilience to disasters. From the quiet but steady work they perform in their communities, women should move into the frontlines of delivering decisive action for a sustainable and resilient planet,” said Ms. Legarda, who has driven the enacting of a host of laws on the protection of women’s rights and climate change in the Philippines.
“Senator Legarda is a leading example of how women can be empowered to make the world more resilient against disasters,” said Mr. Glasser.
In a special session on disasters and climate change at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women last week, Mr. Glasser highlighted the importance of improving data on women in disasters to better assess the scale of the problem and respond to it.
According to research by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, women and girls are 14 times more likely to die than men during a disaster.