Women News

Speech: Accelerating Action for Gender-Responsive Disaster Risk Reduction

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Time is not on our side, dear friends; we are already halfway to 2030. We face worsening climate impacts and uncontrolled environmental degradation.

Disasters are intensifying at an alarming rate. More extreme weather conditions, combined with poor planning and adaptation measures, expose millions of people who do not have recourse to social protection, to the loss of homes, lives and livelihoods.

This exposure to damage is not uniform. As the mid-term review reports of the Sendai Framework reveal, despite their capacities, women and girls are being left behind and left behind, caught in a vicious cycle of impact and neglect.

Overall, women are disproportionately affected during and after disasters. We can see it everywhere we look, from their death rates to their interrupted education, their damaged health, their experiences of violence, their lost livelihoods and their malnutrition.

And yet, with so much to gain from appropriate solutions, women continue to be largely excluded from disaster risk reduction and resilience processes. The omission of women’s participation and leadership fundamentally threatens our collective resilience and ability to address climate challenges.

Conversely, women’s perspectives and engagement at all levels lead to better resilience outcomes for communities and marginalized groups, strengthening disaster risk reduction policies and mechanisms. Research conducted in 2019 across 91 countries demonstrates that electing female politicians helps enact ambitious climate policies.

The more women we have in positions of power, the more likely we are to have more ambitious and rigorous climate change and disaster risk reduction policies, greater emphasis on quality of life and better health and education outcomes for all.

One of the greatest strengths of the Sendai Framework since its inception is the recognition of the importance of local contexts and communities shaping their own responses.

Women lift up their families and communities after droughts, they lift them up after floods and they lift them up after hurricanes, to bring them back to stability. Where crises converge, as we have seen in the Pacific and the Lake Chad Basin region, women step in, especially when they have access to finance, knowledge and political agency. Women are the true face of resilience. I’m sure you all agree with me.

The mid-term review gives us a crucial opportunity to leverage women’s agency and leadership for more effective and gender-responsive implementation of the Sendai Framework.

A gender action plan for the Sendai Framework will provide the much-needed roadmap for more coordinated action.

Let me also recall that Member States united in supporting the creation of a Gender Action Plan at last year’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali and the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference.

Today, UN Women, UNDRR and UNFPA joined forces to highlight that disaster risk and gender inequality are intertwined challenges. We will only achieve our goals if we put women’s leadership at the heart of our work to build our collective resilience.

As part of this partnership, UN Women stands ready to support Member States and all other stakeholders to scale up gender-responsive disaster risk reduction.

Our Women’s Resilience to Disaster program, generously funded by Australia – thank you Australia – enables us to work with over 400 women’s organizations specializing in climate and disaster resilience, in 61 countries and counting. It also allows us to amplify the voices of brilliant women leaders from small island developing states in the Pacific, such as Vasiti Soko, who moderates this session. She is the director of the Fiji National Disaster Management Office. Welcome Vasiti.

Resolve to seize the momentum of the mid-term review to make our disaster risk reduction efforts more equitable and unleash the powerful potential of women’s leadership for resilience and for a more sustainable and prosperous world.

Thank you and wish you a very good session.

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