Women and girls in Fiji and in the Pacific demonstrate resilience on a daily basis but COVID-19 and the recent Tropical Cyclone Harold, and the social and economic impacts of dual disasters have tested their resilience.
Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes made this comment at the opening of the Women Resilience to Disaster National Consultation at Holiday Inn this morning.
Feakes says research, as well as experience, tell us that disasters affect women, girls, boys and men differently adding these different impacts can lead to a higher risk of death or injury for women, longer recovery times or greater risk of mental or physical trauma.
Feakes further says disasters also disproportionately affect people with disabilities who often experience barriers in accessing information, protection and assistance.
He adds we know that those who can be disproportionately affected, can be agents of change, when provided with the resources and opportunity to lead adding different groups bring diverse skills, resources and knowledge to reduce risk and overcome the aftermath of a disaster.
He adds engaging women and girls, youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities throughout the disaster management cycle is imperative for the success of resilience-building efforts.
Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Jennifer Poole says the Fijian Government recognises investing in women in a targeted manner can help increase resilience.
She adds this is the starting point of any resilience investment.
Poole further says understanding the nature of gender-based vulnerabilities is crucial to recognising the diverse impact of climate change and disasters on the population.
UN Women plans to develop a new program on Strengthening Women’s Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States. The aim of the program is to render women’s and girls’ lives and livelihoods disaster-resilient, contributing to stronger, more sustainable and secure communities.
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