THE successive natural disasters that impacted the Fiji Islands in the first months of 2017 are a clear signal of the future – greater climate unpredictability, persistent droughts and stronger cyclones, resulting in more complex and frequent humanitarian emergencies. Increasingly, complex and frequent disasters are confronting an existing humanitarian system of response that is not properly prepared to cope.
What is required is more transformative, gender-inclusive agenda for humanitarian response which will ensure the rights and specific needs of women and girls in all their diversities affected by natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies are addressed in national plans, strategies and responses – including disaster risk reduction policies. Additionally, women should not only be portrayed as victims of natural disasters and climate change. Rather, they are equal partners in designing strategies and agreements on how to tackle related issues.
As we reflect on the year since Sever Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston, it is time for reaffirming women as first-responders. It is also a time for government to not just commit, but highlight how they will work with women’s civil society to meet the representation targets in decision making processes.
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