Disaster Vulnerability of Women, a Pressing Concern—Legarda Tells Tokyo Forum on Women

September 12, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda will raise the issue of vulnerability of women to disasters at the World Assembly for Women convened by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan.


Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, is the only Philippine participant in the high level conference and will deliver the opening statement for a sub-group discussion on “A Society where Self-Determination of Women is Assured” on Saturday (September 13).


In sharing the Philippine experience in promoting women empowerment and closing the gender gap, Legarda will highlight the disaster vulnerability of women and encourage participants of the conference to turn such vulnerability into opportunities to get involved in disaster resilience and climate adaptation efforts.


“Nations are gaining progress in promoting gender equality and women’s rights, but challenges will never go away and in most communities, there are continuing barriers to women empowerment. The vulnerability of women to disasters is among the challenges that must be addressed with urgency,” she stressed.


Legarda said that as disaster risks abound amid the fast changing environment, disasters affect yearly about 200 million people all over the world, half of them women or girls.


When Typhoon Haiyan lashed Central Philippines last year, more than 3.5 million women and girls were affected. Of this number, 250,000 were pregnant and 169,000 were breastfeeding, which means they have distinct nutritional needs that make it tougher for them to cope with disasters. Moreover, their displacement from their homes put them at greater risk of sexual violence and of falling prey to human traffickers.


Legarda said it is important to make gender-sensitive and risk-sensitive development policies, plans and programs, and women must be empowered to be part of the overall strategy on disaster risk reduction and management.


“To empower women is to reduce their vulnerability to disasters. Women at the grassroots are already embracing disaster risk reduction as their cause and have been effectively at the frontline of disaster prevention and climate adaptation efforts. Their efforts to keep their families safe and make their communities resilient contribute to building a safer Earth,” she added


“Women have a wealth of capacities that need to be harnessed. We need to tap these vital resources to achieve sustainable development, reduce disaster risks and promote resilience in our communities,” Legarda concluded.