Ensuring Women’s Participation in Humanitarian Action

Tuesday, 5 September 2017 (Apia, Samoa) – “Samoa can be a leading example for other Red Cross Societies in the Pacific region, with humanitarian assistance that recognizes the different needs of women, children and people with disabilities and involves them actively in the process,” Samoa Red Cross Society (SRCS) Secretary General Namulauulu Tautala Mauala said.   

SRCS is the largest humanitarian organisation in Samoa with more than 2,200 volunteers supporting local communities.

SRCS is one of four Pacific organisations that UN Women is supporting through the Women's Peace & Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) - formerly the Global Acceleration Instrument (GAI) for Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action.  

The WPHF funding via UN Women will enable SRCS over the next 24 months to ‘mainstream gender’ with their community volunteers and emergency response teams - meaning that women will be directly involved in planning and action in times of disasters or when other humanitarian assistance is needed.

Women and girls are affected by natural disasters differently than men and boys, and due to pre-existing inequalities, this can make women and girls more vulnerable.

In preparing for severe natural disasters, Namulauulu advised that “SRCS has been working with the government and community partners to make weather forecasting information more accessible to rural communities; develop early warning systems; train emergency response teams; and support evacuation centres with disaster preparedness and response.”

UN Women’s Representative for Fiji MCO, Aleta Miller said “this is an exciting partnership with SRCS and a great opportunity to ensure that humanitarian assistance promotes gender equality and includes all members of society”.

“It’s critical that women are part of decision-making processes in disaster response planning, and are at the decision-making table during disaster response -  especially in a region with high levels of gender inequality.” Ms. Miller said.

The project will train community volunteers and emergency response teams on gender considerations including collecting data by age and sex during a humanitarian response needs assessment to ensure the most appropriate support is provided such as support to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in evacuation centres. 

“This project will ensure more women participate in emergency response planning at the community level and that gender and diversity are included in all Samoa Red Cross Society tools and planning” said Namulauulu.

UN Women’s Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action programme works to strengthen the capacity of humanitarian actors in the Pacific to integrate gender and protection in their work, and to lead the mainstreaming of gender and protection through the entire humanitarian system at national level in countries across the Pacific region.

UN Women Fiji MCO, which assists 14 Pacific Island countries and territories, is working with national organizations to ensure women can participate in, lead and be empowered by humanitarian assistance.

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