Participants discuss gender-inclusive and rights-based approaches in two-day Regional Sensitization workshop

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Panelists, moderated by Mr. Hans Guttman, ADPC's Executive Director, discuss investing in gender equality and rights-based approaches in DRR

Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) brought together government officials, local humanitarian networks, the private sector and development partners, in Bangkok, on 23-24 April to discuss the upscaling of gender integration into preparedness for response plans in Asia.

The Regional Sensitization Workshop on Integrating Gender-Equal and Rights-Based Approaches in Asian Preparedness Partnership (APP) Action Plans was a step forward to help the six APP countries benefit from ADPC’s gender focused program − Building resilience through Inclusive and Climate-Adaptive Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia Pacific (BRDR). The program is also focused on the institutionalization of gender integration into all programs being implemented by ADPC.

Participants discuss the integration of gender-inclusive agendas into national roadmaps being developed by APP local partners in each country. BRDR will facilitate APP partners in making their plans more gender inclusive and pro-poor.

APP was established under the project ’Strengthening Emergency Response Capacity of Local Humanitarian Actors in Asia’, being implemented by ADPC, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Whereas the BRDR program is supported by the Swedish Government and being implemented in partnership with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), the Environment Institute (SEI), and Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI).

In a case study, at the workshop, presented by Dr Hilde Jakobsen, Senior Gender Advisor from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), the roots of gender inequality were identified: “the vulnerabilities and the disaster risks that we want to minimize are actually influenced by principles that identify how society is structured and how we are expected to associate with such structures,” she explained.

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Participants group together to identify challenges and opportunities for integrating gender-inclusivity in disaster preparedness

This set the premise for subsequent group discussions on understanding current issues and opportunities for development as well as potential entry points to realize rights-based and gender-inclusive approaches across future projects in the humanitarian and private sectors, across Asia and the Pacific.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Hans Guttman, ADPC’s Executive Director, addressed the withstanding issue of inequality in the field of disaster management and reiterated the need for inclusivity of disaster management frameworks. “ADPC is committed to developing a better understanding of what permits gender equality in disasters through promotion of women’s leadership while understanding what is and how disasters affect men, women, boys and girls in different ways,” he stated.

In a panel discussion, moderated by Mr. Hans Guttman, Ms. Sally Aires Shevach, Humanitarian Affairs and Rights Specialist, HAG, expressed concerns regarding the current structure in acknowledging that women and men, boys and girls, experience disasters very differently. “We know that disasters don’t affect women proportionately to men,” she expressed.

In extension of which, Dr. Valerie Bemo, Deputy Director, Emergency Response, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), expressed her concerns: “how do we have a common language among us, to improve the way we are working,” she suggested as an area for improvement.

Participants further discussed the guiding principles and key elements of incorporating not only gender-inclusive policies but to ensure that disaster frameworks oversee the inclusion of all marginalised groups within APP-member countries. The workshop, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Swedish Government, captured entry points among participating organisations, to ensure future projects cater to dimensions such as gender-inclusiveness and rights-based approaches in a local context.

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Participants of the regional workshop pose for a group picture.