INVESTING IN WOMEN CRUCIAL TO IMPROVING RESILIENCE TO DISASTERS

Investing in women helps build resilience to disasters and climate change.

This was highlighted by the Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Ms. Jennifer Poole while speaking at the opening of the National Consultation on Women’s Resilience to Disasters.

“Our Ministry stands in commitment towards the invaluable work of women’s resilience to disasters and will continuously champion concerns through a participatory approach as we uphold the overarching development goal of “gender equality” and “leaving no one behind,” she said.

“The Fijian Government recognises that investing in women in a targeted manner can help increase resilience. Given women’s social roles, they are challenged by and have a deeper understanding of rural and urban vulnerabilities. This is the starting point of any resilience investment. Understanding the nature of gender-based vulnerabilities is crucial to recognising the diverse impact of climate change and disasters on the population.”

The Consultation on Women’s Resilience to Disasters Programme is co-organised by Fiji’s Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office and part of a series of consultations to inform the design of a new UN Women programme funded through the support of the Australian Government.

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Recent natural disasters and COVID-19 has further impacted the resilience of women and communities, and there is an even greater need to invest in this sector.

“Climate and disaster resilience represent an opportunity to promote positive change toward gender equality and challenge historical patriarchal norms and practices. These goals could be achieved by shifting consideration of the role of women affected by disaster from “vulnerable” and “victim” to “game changer” and “active stakeholder”,“ said Ms Poole.

“I wish to reiterate my heartful thanks to the Australian High Commission and UN Women who have made this Consultation a timely one during preparedness before the Cyclone Season. The National Women’s Machinery looks forward to supporting the advocacy work towards Women Resilience to Disaster through strategic interventions in promoting and mobilising women in Fiji.”

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“Women and girls in Fiji and in the Pacific demonstrate resilience on a daily basis but COVID-19 and the recent Tropical Cyclone Harold, and the social and economic impacts of dual disasters have tested your resilience,” said Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes.

“While challenging, these recent events demonstrate now more than ever is the time to invest in risk reduction, preparedness and resilience building.”

The meeting aims to determine the opportunities and gaps in women’s resilience building programming and informing the design of the programme in Fiji. This is also in support of MWCPA’s development of a 5 year Corporate Plan (2020 – 2025) to set strategic directions in key thematic areas.

This new regional programme, currently in its design phase, aims at rendering women and girls lives and livelihoods climate and disaster resilient, contributing to stronger, more sustainable and secure communities. The programme will propose a package of actions for women’s resilience that focus on making climate change adaptation and prevention, preparedness and response systems, plans, policies and tools gender-responsive, with targeted strategies enabling women and girls to withstand natural hazards, recover fully from extreme events and disasters and increase their resilience to future hazards.

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“Engaging women and girls, youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities throughout the disaster management cycle is an imperative for the success of resilience building efforts,” said High Commissioner Feakes.

“We are strongly committed to helping you and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region – our neighbours – build disaster and climate resilience by implementing your own commitments to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – the global blueprint for disaster resilience.”