Women and girls are crucial in disaster risk reduction

Oct 12, 2012

Ha Noi – That women and girls are crucial in work to reduce disaster risk was one of the conclusions at an advocacy event to mark this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction and the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management under the theme: “Women and Girls – the [in]Visible Force of Resilience.”

The Central Committee for Floods and Storm Control (CCFSS), the Viet Nam Women’s Union, the Disaster Management Working Group (DMWG) and the United Nations, all represented at the event, voiced strong support for the formal participation of women and girls in decision-making processes in this area.

Every year we are reminded that Viet Nam is highly prone to disasters such as floods, typhoons, droughts and landslides. According to the 2012 climate risk index produced by the organization Germanwatch, Viet Nam ranks sixth in the world on climatic risks. As women and girls are often the first to prepare their families for a disaster and the first to put communities back together in the aftermath, they play a critical role in building safer and more resilient communities throughout Viet Nam. They are invaluable in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation processes if real community resilience and significant reduction of disaster impacts are to be achieved.

In a joint policy brief on gender equality in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in Viet Nam, the  UN and Oxfam stressed the need for women to be more represented in local and sub-regional formal decision-making structures, such as in the Committee for Flood and Storm Control (CFSC) and Search and Rescue Committees. The policy brief also notes that women and girls should not be seen as victims but rather as crucial actors in disaster risk reduction.

Or as Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam puts it: “While we can’t eliminate disasters, we can reduce the extensive damage they cause. One way is to ensure that all Vietnamese people, regardless of gender, social status or age, are involved in identifying solutions and that relevant policies and actions are informed by needs and community knowledge.”

For more information, see:

The press release from the event
Video stories featuring women in Viet Nam working on disaster risk reduction
A book of personal stories on how women and girls in Viet Nam are dynamic actors in disaster risk reduction
An op-ed by Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator, published in Dan Tri
A joint UN Oxfam policy brief on gender equality in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction
Speech by Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Country Director at the event
A short animated video produced by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UNDP on the need to invest more in preparing for disasters caused by natural hazards
The UN Secretary-General’s message for the day, which makes reference to Viet Nam