Speech at the International Day for Disaster Reduction and ASEAN Day for Disaster Management

12 Oct 2012

Speaker: Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Country Director
Date:       Friday October 12, 2012
Event:      International Day for Disaster Reduction and ASEAN Day for Disaster Management (13 October)

Your Excellency, Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Diệu, Deputy Chief of the Standing office for the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control; Deputy Director of the Water Resources Directorate

Your Excellency, Mdm. Nguyễn Thị Tuyết, Deputy Chairwoman of the Viet Nam Women’s Union

Representatives from central government and provinces

UN colleagues, representatives of development partners and international non-governmental organizations

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by warmly welcoming all of you to the first ceremony of the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management and the celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction. On behalf of the UN in Viet Nam, I would like to thank the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control and the Vietnam Women’s Union for joining us in organizing this important event.

The theme of the International Day for Disaster Reduction this year, “Women and Girls – the Visible Force of Resilience,” underlines the important roles and rights of women and girls in managing disaster risks. This is equally true in Viet Nam because each and every woman and man, girl and boy, living in disaster prone areas contributes to building safer communities.

Despites this, we often do not hear women and girls voicing their needs in disaster situations or talking about their skills and experiences in preparing and protecting their families and communities. This knowledge is often an untapped resource in disaster risk mitigation. Institutional mechanisms should be in place for women and girls to share their experiences and influence the future for improving disaster risk preparedness.

On this occasion I would like to make three suggestions:

First, it is essential to focus the majority of our support on equipping women and girls with all the essential knowledge and skills to cope with disaster risk, from planning and preparedness to long-term recovery and development. Basic skills, such as learning how to swim, are essential for girls and boy alike.

Second, gender equality principles should be fully reflected in the forthcoming law on disaster risk management. We are very happy that the draft law introduces gender equality as a general principle but this may not be enough. Other countries in the region, such as the Philippines, have gone further to incorporate gender dimensions in their disaster management laws. With significant experience and strong leadership, Viet Nam can follow in these nations’ footsteps and raise the bar further by creating cutting-edge legislation. For example, the law should include provisions to ensure that disaster risk reduction measures are gender responsive, and that all pre- and post-disaster needs assessments institutionalize gender analysis.

Third, the Viet Nam Women’s Union and other key women’s organizations and institutions, should play more formal roles in disaster risk management in Viet Nam. Through their networks and organizational structure, they can play an important role in the mobilization and coordination of humanitarian work. More importantly, this would enable women to effectively participate in the decision-making process at all levels and ensure that the strategic needs and visions of women and girls in disaster risk reduction are identified and supported.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are pleased to have the rich knowledge of experts from government, donors, development partners, and non-government organizations represented in this meeting. It is a great opportunity to reflect ideas and share lessons on how to enable women and girls to take on more active roles and make valuable contributions to disaster risk management in Viet Nam.

Under the framework of the United Nations One Plan for 2012-2016, we are committed to continue working with the government, women’s organizations and other partners to draw more on the roles of women in reducing disaster risks in Viet Nam.

I hope we will have fruitful discussions. Thank you for listening.