Fighting inequality for a resilient future in MSB’s international operations
October 13 marks the international day for Disaster Risk Reduction, held every year since 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. The day is meant to acknowledge how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the risks we face. This year’s theme is Fighting inequality for a resilient future, which aligns with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Disasters affect people in the society differently. Women, girls, boys and men, youth, elderly, people with disabilities, and ethnic and religious minorities all have different needs, vulnerabilities and priorities in disasters. The ability to prepare for, withstand and cope with disasters are therefore not equal for all.
At MSB, the Resilience building section work with international capacity development projects to prevent and manage crises and disasters. To address how existing social inequalities shapes the impacts of disasters and to make sure no one is left behind in
Disaster Risk Management (DRM) efforts, a gender and human rights perspective is at the centre in all MSB’s international resilience strengthening operations.
We see that social norms and pre-existing inequalities in the society, and especially gender inequality, strongly shapes who is affected and in what way. Marginalized groups in a society often experience a challenging situation before a disaster. When a disaster strike, their situation typically gets worse and they are disproportionately at risk and vulnerable, says Jenny Molin, who is a Gender Advisor in international operations at the Resilience building section.
Responding to the needs of the people we serve
Our work aims at strengthening other countries and international actors to prevent, manage and recover from crises and disasters, based on their own needs and capacities. MSB provides support through the development of technical and functional capacity, but also through political and advisory support.
– At the core, a gender and human rights perspective in our operations is about putting the spotlight on these issues and make sure that we, as DRM actors, carry out our work in a way that respond to the needs and realities of the people that we seek to serve. That we include them, listen to them and seek to understand them, says Jenny Molin.
Integrating gender and human rights in all projects
We integrate gender, human rights and environmental perspectives as cross-cutting issues (CCIs) into all resilience building projects. The projects usually extend over several years and can include supporting a national system or focus on specific or parts of organisations. The MSB mandate stems from the framework of the Swedish development aid policy and the European development agenda.
This work is a shared responsibility of everyone who is involved in the planning, implementation and follow-up of a project all functions have an important role to play. The approach may however differ between different projects, depending on the focus, set up and context of the project.
How we do this in our projects
In the EU funded programme Prevention Preparedness and Response to natural and man-made Disasters,-phase 3 (PPRD East 3), one successful result includes how these cross-cutting issues were systematically integrated into the regional full scale exercise in Georgia in June 2023. This was a ground breaking approach that had not been tested in previous exercises. The advisors joined the exercise planning team from the very start and supported the process by providing strategic and technical advice, develop materials, tools and processes, provide input on material and organise training opportunities. Example of key success include;
- The inclusion of civil society in the exercise (volunteers from the Red Cross).
- Development of “24/7 camp rules” to promote a safe and inclusive training environment.
- Establishment of a mechanism to receive feedback and complaints from participants.
- Gender and human rights aspects were included in the scenario, e.g. related to early warning and evacuation of populations.
Change initiatives to create a safer environment
In the International Training Programme on Disaster Risk Management (ITP DRM), participants apply change initiatives, aimed at creating change in their own organisations. Through different learning sessions, networking opportunities and with support from a dedicated Gender Advisor and appointed mentor, the participants take positive steps in this direction. One example is an initiative in Bangladesh aimed to increase the number of female volunteers involved in the national Cyclone Preparedness Programme, to better reach out to women and girls. After the ITP, the participants reported that the work had resulted in that women and girls felt more secure to seek shelter, and thus helping to reduce the female-to-male death ratio.
Mainstreaming gender and diversity into all activities
The EU funded project Leveraging ASEAN Capacities for Emergency Response (LACER) was explicitly designed to enhance gender awareness and inclusiveness in disaster risk management across the ASEAN region. Through mainstreaming with a particular focus on the vulnerabilities of women, children and PWDs, gender and diversity could be integrated into LACER activities and covered during specific thematic sessions. Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI) was integrated into trainings, exercises and policy documents. Our dedicated Gender expert observed the large ASEAN regional disaster response exercise (ARDEX) providing recommendations on how to optimise integration of PGI into exercise planning and development of the exercise.
The EU funded programme Capacity for Risk Management of Earthquakes and Health Emergencies in the Western Balkans and Türkiye (IPA CARE) is in the inception phase. During the capacity needs assessments in all partner countries, gender and human rights perspectives are integrated to build a sustainable foundation throughout the programme implementation.
– If we think about the diversity of needs, experiences, and priorities that we find in a population, it’s quite easy to see that a one-size-fits-all approach is likely to fail, says Jenny Molin.
Latest reviewed: 13 October 2023