5) Provide training to women, men and stakeholders that address women practical and strategic needs: Non traditional training activities such as how to build houses, dig wells and ditches, build shelters that enable women to take an active role in what is considered “male tasks”. Taking into consideration the community culture and tradition, field staff and community leaders must also be trained in gender issues using very practical exercises and tools.
6) Capacity building and training to women and men in literacy, mathematics and micro-credit in communities stricken by disasters: This provides skills that will lead to their economic autonomy, a situation of key importance to recover from family losses. Non-formal education addressed to children, youth and adults, including literacy classes provides an effective platform for life skills especially within vulnerable communities whose livelihoods are climate sensitive and access to knowledge, information and basic education is lacking. The flexible curriculum promoted by the Education authorities is an opportunity to include local needs and concerns as part of its regular contents. The fact that literacy classes are attended by a large number of women provides an opportunity to discuss issues related to early warning, prevention, climate change and others, including how to develop activities that address their practical and strategic needs.
7) Disasters can become opportunities to transform women's roles and status in the community:Women are agents of change and even if gender priorities under disaster contexts are not always recognized, current traditional perceptions of women's role as housewives can change if women are trained to participate in decision making in local government structures as well as if they are provided with leadership and organizational skills. Providing this type of training to the Local Committees for Disaster Management can motivate that more women participate in the decision making community structures.
When local governments start implementing disaster risk reduction activities it might happen that there is an initial lack of interest and of capacities for disaster risk reduction activities and difficulties in understanding local risks and vulnerabilitiesdue to lack of sufficient knowledge about disaster risks and vulnerabilities of their communities as well as appropriate disaster risk reduction measures. Maintaining and upgrading critical infrastructure and managing long-term processes can also create constraints to implement these activities. Therefore it is very important that different stakeholders (central governments, NGOs and UN agencies) and partners provide strong and long standing support to help local governments to better plan and manage local disaster risks.
Overview of gender issues in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness (DRR&EP)and Climate Change
“Disasters don’t discriminate, but people do. Existing socio-economic conditions mean that disasters can lead to different outcomes even for demographically similar communities - but inevitably the most vulnerable groups suffer more than others. Research reveals that disasters reinforce, perpetuate and increase gender inequality, making bad situations worse for women. Meanwhile, the potential contributions that women can offer to the disaster risk reduction imperative around the world are often overlooked and female leadership in building community resilience to disasters is frequently disregarded.” (Margareta Wahlström Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction United Nations, Julia Marton-Lefèvre Director General IUCN, Jordan Ryan Assistant Administrator and Director BCPR, UNDP, 2009)34
Available information shows that efforts to promote gender equality in DRR& EP and CCH have mainly focused on advocacy and lobbying by the international organizations, NGO`s and a few countries sensitive to the differences on impact and coping mechanisms between affected male and female populations.
The term “gender” refers to socially ascribed roles, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men, the power structures in their relationships. Gender is “...in essence, a term used to emphasize that sex inequality is not caused by the biological and physiological differences that characterize men and women, but rather by the unequal and inequitable treatment socially accorded to them. In this sense, gender refers to the cultural, social, economic and political conditions that are the basis of certain standards, values and behavioral patterns related to genders and their relationship” (Riquer, 1993).
Disasters can lead to different outcomes even for demographically similar communities. Several studies have shown that negative impacts affect mainly vulnerable groups, and increase gender inequality, worsening women and girls situation. In many cases this also includes elderly women and men. The potential contributions that women can offer to the disaster risk reduction are often overlooked and women are seldom recognized as agents of change in their role, among others, as leaders in building community resilience to disasters.
UNISDR, UNDP and IUCN (2009)35 developed several definitions on Disaster, Disaster Risk Reduction, Vulnerability and others related concepts that are found in Annex 3:
Today most of the institutions and organizations dealing with gender differences in DDR&EP and Climate Change36 are implementing their activities through the gender mainstreaming approach, "a process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality” (ECOSOC 1997).37 “Mainstreaming” is a process bringing an issue that could be considered marginal, into the main decision-making process of an organization or institution. A gender-mainstreaming approach is an inclusive approach that assesses the situation of women and men as beneficiaries, and does not look at women in isolation. Nevertheless, this process entitles social justice and human rights that ensure equitable and sustainable human development by the most effective and efficient means. Many efforts to mainstream gender into disaster risk reduction have found a gap in policy and practical guidance mainly because there is a lack of guidance and understanding of these concepts among government and institutions.
The United Nations’ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction acknowledge in their DRR programs and guidelines, the shift from a women-focused approach to a gender- focused approach, where men and women’s roles and relationships should be analyzed within the overall gendered socioeconomic and cultural context. In the pursuit of sustainable development, there has been a shift in the focus of DRR recently: from a reactive disaster management response towards a long-term proactive disaster risk management and vulnerability reduction, where gender and DRR are considered a main issue.
Relevance for considering gender issues in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness (DRR&EP) and Climate Change Identification of gender roles are of key importance among vulnerable people specially when dealing with development initiatives which aspire sustainable results. In most societies there are significant differences between the rights and opportunities of women and men especially in relation to land and resource rights, access to work, fair salaries and participation in decision-making processes. Norm and values, tradition and culture are in many cases at the base of inequality between men and women. Where gender inequalities are enshrined in cultural practices and/or national or customary laws, resistance to change may be strongly exacerbated by fears that gains of power, prestige and benefits by women may signify their loss by men.
Disasters, emergencies and the negative impacts of climate change affect women and girls differently from men and boys and often in situations of natural disasters they lose the capacity to sustain their own and their family’s livelihood. This results from the combined factors of natural hazards and people’s vulnerabilities that can take several expressions such as physical exposure, socioeconomic vulnerability, and limited capacity to reduce vulnerability and disaster risk.
Women are often more vulnerable in disaster, emergencies and under the negative impacts of climate change due to their subordinate social and economic status (they are poorer and more vulnerable than men, lack participation in decision-making processes and are viewed as passive, vulnerable and helpless). As a result, they increase gender-specific physical insecurity and suffer additional abuse, especially in remote rural areas. Nevertheless, there are studies that reveal that in several cases even when uprooted, women take responsibility for themselves and for other members of their households. Addressing gender inequalities and promoting the adoption of a gender equality perspective is crucial to avoid insecurity.
In DRR activities and programmes, including emergencies and preparedness, usually women assume new roles and responsibilities to ensure the survival of their families during a crisis. If their husbands, sons or male representatives are absent, women frequently become the sole nurturers, providers and community spokespeople. They bear the burden of coping even if they have difficulty in obtaining the equal humanitarian assistance entitlements that men do have.
In these contexts, gender analysis and vulnerability assessment can help to clarify the specific and often different needs, vulnerabilities and coping strategies of women and men, so that they can be more adequately addressed in response to the DRR & EP situation as well as CCH mitigation and adaptation. Lessons learned reveal that interventions to save lives and secure livelihoods in emergencies are more efficient and effective when gender differences are properly understood.
Climate change affects men and women differently As it has already been explained, there are differences between men and women in social expectations, roles, status, and economic power and also they are affected differently by climate change. Women are responsible for 70-80 percent of household food production in sub-Saharan Africa and CCH’s impact on food security is predicted to reduce crop yields and food production in some regions, affecting specially women and households headed by women, a situation exacerbated by the unequal access to land, information, and inputs such as improved seeds and fertilizers. Traditional food sources may become scarcer as the climate changes. Women’s specific knowledge of maintaining biodiversity, through the conservation and domestication of wild edible plant seeds and food crop breeding, may also be put at risk due to lack of time to attend training sessions coupled with high illiteracy levels, which prevent them from taking advantage of training aids that might be available.
Climate change may well have negative impacts on existing shortages of water. Women are the primary responsible for water collection in their communities. Changes in climatic conditions affect water quantity and accessibility. This will oblige women to walk longer distances for water collection, consuming more of their already limited time.
Climate change may affect human health in a variety of ways such as increased spread of vector- and water-borne diseases, reduced drinking water availability, food insecurity due to reduced agricultural production in some regions and increased cases of heat stress and respiratory illnesses.(CIDA 2008)38Women, as primary caregivers in many families, may see their responsibilities increase as family members suffer increased illness.
Relations between gender mainstreaming and DRR&EP, CCH mitigation39 and adaptation40 efforts The Report on the 52nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women make reference to the need to “Integrate a gender perspective into the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of national environmental policies, strengthen mechanisms and provide adequate resources to ensure women’s full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels on environmental issues, in particular on strategies related to the impact of climate change on the lives of women and girls”(CSW2008). This proposal clearly establishes a linkage between two global challenges: gender inequality and adaptation to climate change. The report recommends that a gender perspective be integrated at all levels of planning for and decision-making on climate issues and that resource be made available to ensure the full participation of women.
In disaster areas women and men experience different vulnerabilities and cope with natural disasters differently. Therefore, an increase in the magnitude and frequency of natural disasters will have different implications for men and women. In this way, gender mainstreaming is essential to be considered in mitigation and adaptation policies, strategies and programs as stated by the CSW. For example, as women’s asset determine how they respond to climate change impacts it is necessary to provide them with education, resources and technology, promote their participation in decision making and others as fundamental issues that will enhance their livelihoods in mitigation and adaptation. A good example of this is the case of Honduras. After hurricane Mitch (1998), La Masica ( a town in Honduras) , reported no deaths. A disaster agency had provided gender-sensitive community education on early warning systems and hazard management six months earlier. Women were able to assume responsibility for continuously monitoring the early warning systems, and the municipality was able to evacuate the area promptly when hurricane Mitch struck.
Factors that influence women in DRR&EP and CCH mitigation and adaptation Some of the key issues affecting women living in places vulnerable to disaster risks and that should be considered when developing Projects, programmes and activities are described below :
The lack of access to information, communication, education, illiteracy, play a critical role on the effectiveness of early warning systems and make women less likely to respond to DRR&EP as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation. Customs and beliefs play also an important role.
Limited economic access and differences in access to resources, can limit their capacity to respond to disasters or to different options and ‘safety nets’ for coping with change
The gender-based division of labour which can increase women’s work load
Difference between women’s and men’s participation at decision making level when dealing with DRR&EP activities and policies including climate change mitigation and adaptation
Weak political support at national and regional level.
The effects of natural disasters, emergencies and climate change are multifaceted: social, political, and economic as well as environmental. While women are generally more vulnerable but not helpless, they exhibit surprising resilience and are key agents of environmental transformation. Therefore, there is a need to elaborate responses not imposed from above, but modelled on needs, aspirations, knowledge and capabilities of women and men that are then actively involved as crucial partners in CCH mitigation and adaptation efforts. Gender considerations should be introduced in the key critical issues on the climate change agenda, namely: mitigation, the Clean Development Mechanism, adaptation and capacity building. Efforts should be directed towards a wider application of a gendered approach even in other strategic sectors, including, for instance, technology transfer and vulnerability studies (Lambrou Y. Piana G. 2005) 41
Gender as a cross-cutting issue in DRR&EP and CCH mitigation and adaptation activities needs to be addressed through a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach. Joint action and coordination through political, technical, social, developmental and humanitarian processes is needed. Implementing a mainstreaming gender approach offers an opportunity for re-examining gender relations in society from different angles and enhancing gender equality in socioeconomic development. It also makes it possible for nations and communities to achieve disaster resilience. But the implementation of special activities addressed to women must also be considered if there are cultural prevailing patterns in a community that indicate that activities must be undertaken with men an women separately. This is also true if the result of a gender analysis results in needs to support women who are in a more vulnerable situation than men.
Some gender-specific vulnerabilities and challenges to disaster, emergency and climate change42 The unequal gender relationships that exist within most groups of men and women may pressure progress towards the advancement of women’s rights and empowerment. Gender specific vulnerabilities can also offer opportunities to reframe challenges through a new lens that examines inequalities between men and women.
Male and young women rural-urban migration may happen due to resource shortages, generating increased workload for women left behind;
Water and sanitation: Increased difficulty in accessing natural resources, in particular, fuel wood and water, hence, creating an increased workload for women. In most parts of the world, in rural and urban areas, women and girls are responsible for collecting water for cooking, cleaning, health and hygiene. Limited water supplies, poor service delivery, and pollution will jeopardize women’s survival and that of their families.
Biodiversity and ecosystems: Women and men play different roles in community conservation efforts, with women often taking leadership in seed selection and preservation. Traditionally they have used indigenous resources for food, medicines and energy and also traditionally they have inherited flora and fauna knowledge and conservation methods of their environment. Loss of species due to climate change will specially impact poor rural women. In this same context, energy sources will affect more women than men especially because they will have to take more time in household activities.
Agriculture and food security: Crop and livestock production changes could affect the gendered division of labour resulting in negative effects on both men’s and women’s incomes. Poor rural women, small landowners, subsistence farmers, and fishermen, are especially vulnerable to climate change. Rural women from developing countries are the principal basic food producers, a sector that is very much exposed to risks of drought and potential rain pattern changes, as women have specific conditions that place them in a disadvantage situation. Therefore special consideration should be taken when looking at climate change adaptation, in issues such as land use, land tenure and legal aspects.
Women’s informal rights to resources could decrease or disappear as accesses to land natural resources dwindle due to climate change. Coastal zones: The livelihoods of people living in low-lying coastal zones may be threatened due to sea level rise. Impacts on flooding levels increase, accelerated erosion, threatened wetlands and mangroves, and seawater intrusion into freshwater resources can also occur due to heavy rain and other climatic phenomenon. These can result can impact negatively women and men work.
Drought shortfalls in seasonal rains have resulted in drought and economic distress that lead to a 50% increase in the likelihood of civil war. Climate change accelerates the loss of vegetation and thus desertification. Preserving food, water and traditional medicines, including natural resources management is one of women’s traditional roles in developing countries. Dry lands throughout the world, is particularly affecting women decreasing their traditional crop and livestock productivity.
During natural disaster situations men are assigned a protection role although they could also face situations of risk-taking during and after the natural disaster and they can be caught between gendered demands that define the notions of ‘manhood’ in patriarchal societies. In some regions, like the case in Latin America, the strong cultural expectation of men being “protectors” and indulging in risk-taking behaviour can result in higher mortality, as was the case, for example, during Hurricane Mitch in Central America (1998). Men also may experience strong feelings of frustration and alienation after disasters. This can be expressed physically, in increased domestic and sexual violence.43
Gender equality in DRR&EP, CCH mitigation and adaptation does not mean merely addressing women’s issues. It means addressing concerns of men and women, the relations between them and the root causes of imbalances. Therefore, mainstreaming gender raises several challenges, due to poor understanding of gender issues and DRR linkages at the policy and practitioner levels. Furthermore:
Gender issues are often institutionally marginalized within organizations specially when applying Gender Focal Points or Gender Desks mechanism. Usually people occupying these positions lack enough financial support to carry out gender equity activities
Institutions tend to treat gender as “women issues“. Gender ”expertise” is applied in isolation from the mainstream of the development processes like DRR.
Seldom gender is identified as an integral component of DRR&EP and CCH mitigation and adaptation and in many cases it is not given the real dimension when it is not understood to be a cross-cutting issue.
Scarce financial support for global advocacy and action and commitment largely remain on the NGO`s side that face constraints when lobbying government for concrete policies, finances, substantive programmes or accountability measures. Gender mainstreaming in DRR&EP and CCH mitigation and adaptation remains a free choice.
Difficulties in institutionalizing capacity and tools to mainstream gender due to lack of knowledge and training among managers, professionals and decision making government professionals.
VIII Some Findings
The findings from international best practices and innovative activities in relation to gender-responsive DRR&EP and CCH, are developed below. These findings include activities and programming approaches relevant to Mozambique
DRR&EP and CCH approaches The evolution of approaches from relief and response to DRR&EP has begun to influence the way disaster risk reduction and management programs are being planned and financed. There are initiatives aimed at reducing social and economic vulnerability and investing in long-term mitigation activities, in consonance with the paradigm shift in the mainstream development practice, which is now characterized by emphasis on good governance, accountability and greater focus on bottom-up approaches. Linking climate change to human development remains an important challenge because it addresses better the gender dimensions of climate change and clarifies the linkages between gender and climate change mitigation and adaptation and to Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness. The Climate Change Agenda is based on the growing concern of the climate system changes and its impact on human activities. It has a strong environmental approach. Disaster risk reduction agenda addresses humanitarian actions to respond to disasters as well as how to better anticipate, reduce and manage disaster risk by integrating risk reduction measures into sustainable development planning and policies. Using a systemic approach DRR&EP work to reduce exposure to different hazards, and enhance coping and adaptive capacities of vulnerable populations. In this manner, it can decrease the human, social, economic and environmental vulnerability to natural hazards. The concept of vulnerability is central to DRR. It acknowledges women, the elderly, children, ethnic and, socially excluded tend to be most vulnerable to natural hazards.