Women and girls: Forces for creating disaster-resilient societies

by staff contributor Milad Pournik

women and girls in Aceh, Indonesia, running to higher ground during a tsunami drill

On October 11, 2012, the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the Global Gender Program of GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, co-sponsored an event, Women and Girls: Forces for Creating Disaster Resilient Societies, to observe the 2012 International Day for Disaster Reduction (every year on October 13).

Carla Koppell, Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the keynote remarks. She highlighted the two-part challenge of acknowledging that women and girls are often disproportionate victims in disasters as well as recognizing their important roles as crisis managers, meeting the needs of their families and communities in the aftermath of a disaster.

The first panel included:

Anita Malley, Acting Senior Displacement and Policy Protection Advisor, USAID

Leora Ward, Women’s Protection and Empowerment Technical Advisor of the International Rescue Committee

Sarah Williamson, Humanitarian Consultant and Protection Advocate

The second panel included:

Margaret Arnold, Senior Social Development Specialist, the World Bank

Andrea Burniske, Director, GIRL Project, Save the Children

Jane Henrici, Study Director, Institute for Women’s Policy Research and adjunct professor in  the Elliott School.

The panelists covered a wide variety of topics including participatory community mapping to reduce gender-based violence, disasters as offering “opportunities” for progressive social change, and women’s roles in preventing and managing disasters.

A video of the event is available here.

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