神戸大学大学院国際協力研究科 復旦大学国際関係・公共事務学院 高麗大学校国際大学院

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Risk Management Seminar - “Gender in Disaster Management”

  On June 24, 2013, the CAMPUS ASIA program and Kobe Risk Management Community (RMC), a student group, jointly hold a risk management seminar on “Gender in Disaster Management” delivered by Dr. Yoko Saito, a former researcher at the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) Japan office and Senior Researcher at the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution of Japan. The seminar was organized as part of the CAMPUS ASIA program, and RMC members moderated and acted as discussants.

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  Dr. Saito, at the beginning, mentioned that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (2005) defines gender as social attributes and opportunities associated with biological sex, and the relationships among women, men, girls, and boys. These are all socially constructed and learned. Gender determines what is expected, allowed, and valued.
  Both women and men are affected by gender issues, but differently. This was highlighted after some recent disasters. In some communities of Indonesia, women cannot make their own decisions, even in an emergency. This is a social not biological problem. In shelter and evacuation management, gender-sensitive approaches better address privacy and ensure that everyone receives needed help. Even in Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami there was little gender awareness in disaster relief management.
  The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) prioritizes gender perspective in disaster management. The 2012 International Day for Disaster Reduction (DRR) focused on “Women and Girls, the [In]visible Force of Resilience.” Gaps exist in practice, however: many central governments have created gender-sensitive policies, but local implementation has lagged. For instance, the HFA mid-term review found that only 20% of planned DRR country-level activities account for gender.
  UNCRD projects in Nepal and Bangladesh demonstrate how gender perspective affects disaster management. In Nepal, adults were trained in disaster mitigation. Women applied what they had learned; they shared the information with family and friends. However, two years later, only four women took part in further training. In contrast, in Bangladesh, participation by women in disaster efforts after cyclones led to better shelter management. Pregnant women in shelters received better care, and guidelines prepared by women improved safety in shelters. In these efforts, encouragement from a husband raised a woman’s likelihood of participation.
  Gender awareness should be part of policy, planning, practice, attitude, and behavior for a culture of safety. Sustainable communities need participation, empowerment, ownership, and decision making, especially to become disaster resilient. Equal opportunity in education, for both men and women, is necessary to nurture leadership, confidence, and ownership in development activities.
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