Samoan women take on DRR training

By UNITAR 10 March 2024, 1:00PM

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, a group of 20 women from the Pacific and a few from Asia are in Nuku’alofa to participate in the UNITAR Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction Training Program. 

Three Samoan women and a Tokelaun woman flew out on Sunday to take part in the training program. They are Jennifer Coffin, Mariaolelosalio Petelo, Sharon Mauga, and Jewel Leao Tuitama who will participate in Phase II, in-person training. They were selected out of more than two hundred participants who underwent the Phase I online course. The in-person training is from 5-11 March, to further enhance their knowledge and skills in disaster risk reduction, with a strong focus on leadership and management in disaster response and recovery. Participants in Tonga represent 12 countries from the Pacific region and two from Asia.

Climate change has exacerbated the rate and intensity of disaster events around the world, and the course focuses on the unique challenges and opportunities faced by Pacific Island Countries. The number of recorded disaster events has drastically risen due to a changing climate, impacting human security, and causing severe economic repercussions. Socially vulnerable people such as women, the elderly, youth, children, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, refugees, migrants, and other marginalized people become even more vulnerable in emergencies. Due to gender roles and norms, women are often left to care for these vulnerable groups. Empowering them to participate in decision-making reduces their vulnerability to disasters and benefits whole communities.

"We started this training program in 2016, and we have such a dedicated and talented group of women leaders participating in this eighth cycle," said Dr. Richard Crichton, Regional Training and Development Coordinator for the UNITAR's Division for Prosperity. "These participants bring a wealth of experience and expertise from their respective countries, and we are confident that they will make significant contributions to advancing climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific region as they learn from the Tongan experience."

Phase II of the program features intensive training sessions, workshops, a tour of sites impacted by the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Haapai volcanic eruption and tsunami event, and collaborative activities to strengthen the participants' leadership capabilities and disaster risk reduction knowledge. "Recognizing the critical role Pacific women play in DRR efforts and empowering them will benefit all members of the community," said Dr. Crichton. "The training will provide participants with valuable tools and resources to enhance their impact and drive positive change in their communities."

The selected participants represent a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, reflecting the rich cultural and geographical diversity of the Pacific region, whilst boosting the human resources capacity of PICs. The program will offer unique opportunities for participants to learn from each other, share experiences, and develop innovative solutions for disaster planning.

The Women's Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction program is part of UNITAR's broader efforts to support sustainable development and build resilience to disasters. By empowering women leaders with the skills and knowledge to effectively manage and mitigate disaster risks, UNITAR aims to create safer, more resilient communities for future generations.

The Program is funded by the Government and People of Japan.

By UNITAR 10 March 2024, 1:00PM
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