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Disaster risk reduction

The Department of Emergency Management in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and the Caribbean Department for Emergency Management acknowledged the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, October 13 with a programme involving stakeholders including the Barbados Red Cross, District Emergency Organisations and the Girl Guides Association amongst others.

This year the theme, Women and Girls — The Invisible Force of Resilience brought into focus the impact of disasters on women and the resulting effects on children and communities.

Presentations highlighted various studies and gathered data that showed how gender bias impacted on the lives of women and children in disasters and that the work of women were often overlooked though they played key roles in risk reduction and management in their homes and communities.

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, in her presentation indicated that studies showed that female livelihoods were severely affected because of disasters. Referring to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction Gyles-McDonnough the 1995 earthquake in Japan where out of the 6,402 deaths, 57 per cent were women; and in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami four times the number of men who died, were women.

From within the Caribbean the UN official stated that in Grenada 90 per cent of the houses destroyed by Hurricane Ivan resulted in job losses for domestic workers, the majority of whom were female.

During her presentation Gyles-McDponnough also noted that women’s contributions to disaster risk reduction is often overlooked, and females are frequently disregarded in building resilience in disaster.

Gyles-McDonnough indicated that the 2012 theme acknowledged and celebrated the millions of women and girls who make their communities more resilient to disasters and climate risks and recognised and celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child, being held for the first time this year on October 12.

She indicated her appreciation and spoke of the importance of having the Brownies in the audience, as she emphasised that they had a role to play in the strengthening of their communities. Acknowledging the presence of the Brownies, Guides and students from the Springer Memorial and St. Ursula secondary schools, Gyles-McDonnough said it was critical to involve young people in the process of risk reduction and disaster management as knowledge and preparation from an early age would assist in strengthening the work that has to be done to make us safer.

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