Women and Girls: the [in]Visible Force of Resilience
Loss of lives, suffering and damage due to disasters in many parts of the world are a constant reminder of our vulnerability to natural hazards. Yet much of these tragic consequences could be avoided through risk awareness and assessment, improved environmental management and urban planning, preparedeness and education, to name a few. Disaster risk reduction is about understanding our personal and environmental risks of a hazard and finding ways to reduce this risk so that we are not affected by them, or are able to recover quickly.
We must build the concerns of girls and women into all disaster reduction. Their empowerment is one of the key paths towards more resilient societies. As the number and impact of disasters increase, girls and women must be more than visible – they must be actors and leaders for resilience.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
On 13 October, we celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction as a reminder that disaster resilience must be a development priority in all parts of the world. This year’s celebration focuses on the role of women and girls in reducing disasters risks, drawing attention to the fact that their efforts to protect and rebuild their communities before and after disasters are often unrecognized and that 'invisibility' is a socio-cultural construct. This must be an opportunity to celebrate achievements made by women and girls in disaster resilience and mobilize against the challenges that still prevent them from playing an even greater role in disaster risk reduction and against the future risks which make them particularly vulnerable.
A resilient community is a gender-sensitive community
Gender equality is a red thread weaving through all UNESCO activities to promote international cooperation in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. The Outcome Document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development -- Rio+20 – highlights the need for a sharper focus on disaster risk reduction and building resilience to disasters. It recognizes the need to integrate a gender perspective into the design and implementation of all phases of disaster risk management.
Gender inequality puts women, children and entire communities in danger when natural hazards strike. Gender inequality is a weak link - strengthening that link strengthens resilience. Equality begins with education and women’s education and empowerment, especially, is an accelerator for vulnerability reduction. Unless we invest in strengthening the role of women and girls in disaster resilience, natural disasters will be expected to increase in terms of frequency, complexity, scope and destructive capacity.
Women and Girls are the pillars of resilience - they are the first to prepare their families for a disaster and the first to put communities back together in the aftermath.
Facts and Figures
In the United Nations...
- Education for Disaster Risk Reduction
- Promotion of Gender Equality in Crisis Situations
- International Platform for Reducing Earthquake Disaster (UNESCO-IPRED)
- Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Tsunami Programme
- International Flood Initiative
- Geohazards: mitigating the risks
- Post-Conflict and Post-Disaster Responses
Mobile Multimedia Units in Haiti
These units were used to train women journalists, allowing them to continue to report in crisis situations that often result in women falling victims of violence and discrimination.
- Institutional media development
Myanmar Education Recovery Programme
Over 1,500 female teachers were trained through this programme, which empowered women to reduce their vulnerability to disaster.
Rehabilitation of the Education System in Earthquake-affected Areas of Pakistan Administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Women took center stage in training activities on providing better and safer teaching and learning environments in earthquake-affected middle and secondary schools, focusing on roles and responsibilities, gender equality and girls in education.
- Final report
Combating drought in the Horn of Africa
UNESCO is using new remote-sensing technology to generate high-resolution groundwater potential maps. These will help to combat climate change in water-scarce areas of Africa by identifying emergency and sustainable water supplies and delivering measures to mitigate against long-term drought and famine.
- GRIDMAP project
Tsunami Early Warning Systems
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is leading a global effort to establish ocean-based tsunami warning systems. These regional systems are created to evaluate risks, issue and transmit alert messages and educate the populations exposed to tsunami risks.
- Tsunamis: what to know