Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bigger role for the women of Bangladesh in disaster preparedness

IRIN: In a nation considered the most vulnerable to natural disasters in the world, women must be enabled to take on a bigger role in disaster preparedness and response, experts say.

“To be frank, it’s a constant challenge to achieve genuine female participation in the various activities... While I’ve observed a real commitment to ensuring female representation in disaster preparedness, planning and response, actual participation is something else,” Steven Goldfinch, programme specialist in disaster management for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), told IRIN in Dhaka.

Women's exclusion is not helped by a persistent myth that they are unable to manage in a disaster, added Puji Pujiono, the government’s project manager for the Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP II).

“After a disaster, women undertake tasks directly related to survival. Once all family members are accounted for, women clean up the kitchen, and establish access to water, dry clothing and a place to sleep. Women will travel long distances and risk their own lives to get water for their families,” he said.

But reluctance at Bangladeshi women assuming a bigger role in this traditionally male-dominated country of 142 million has long been a problem. According to a 2008 study by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, an international organization working for gender equality, women in Bangladesh were not consulted in any community-level decision-making….

Women voting n Bangladesh, USAID photo

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